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Call No. Sol ^ \-V\\C Accession No. <\T~ 

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By F. A. Hayek 

The Free Press of Glencoe 
Collier-Macmillan Limited, London 

Copyright 1955 by The Free Press, a Corporation 
Printed in the United States of America 

All rights in this book are reserved. No part of this book 
may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever 
without written permission except in the case of brief 
quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. 


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The Free Press of Glencoe 

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Collier-Macmillan Canada, Ltd., Toronto, Ontario 


Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 52-8 157 



THE STUDIES united in this volume, although in the first instance 
published separately in the course of a number of years, form part 
of a single comprehensive plan. For this republication the exposition 
has been slightly revised and a few gaps have been filled in, but the 
main argument is unchanged. Their arrangement is now systematic, in 
the order in which the argument develops, rather than the accidental 
one of their first appearance. The book thus begins with a theoretical 
discussion of the general issues and proceeds to an examination of 
the historical role played by the ideas in question. This is not mere 
pedantry or a device for avoiding unnecessary repetition but, it seems 
to me, essential in order to show the true significance of the particular 
development'. But I am quite aware that as a result the opening 
sections of the book are relatively more difficult than the rest, and 
that it might have been more politic to put the more concrete matter 
in the forefront. I still believe that most readers who are interested 
in this kind of subject will find the present arrangement more con- 
venient. But any reader who has little taste for abstract discussion 
may do well to read first the second part which has given the title 
to this volume. I hope he will then find the general discussion of the 
same problems in the first study more interesting. 

These two major sections of the volume were first published in 
parts in Economica for 1942-1944 and for 1941 respectively. The 
third study, written more recently as a lecture appeared first in 
Measure for June 1951 but was prepared from notes collected at the 
same time as those for the first two essays. I have to thank the editors 
of both these journals and the London School of Economics and 
Political Science and the Henry Regnery Company of Chicago as their 
respective publishers for permission to reprint what first appeared 
under their auspices. 







I. The Influence of the Natural Sciences on the Social 

Sciences 13 

II. The Problem and the Method of the Natural Sciences 17 

III. The Subjective Character of the Data of the Social 

Sciences 25 

IV. The Individualist and "Compositive" Method of the 

Social Sciences 36 

V. The Objectivism of the Scientistic Approach 44 

VI. The Collectivism of the Scientistic Approach 53 

VII. The Historicism of the Scientistic Approach 64 

VHI. "Purposive" Social Formations 80 

IX. "Conscious" Direction and the Growth of Reason 87 

X. Engineers and Planners 94 


I. The Source of the Scientistic Hubris: L'Ecole Poly- 

technique 105 

II. The "Accoucheur d'Idees": Henri de Saint-Simon 111 

III. Social Physics: Saint-Simon and Comte 129 

IV. The Religion of the Engineers: Enjantin and the Saint- 

Simonians 143 

V. Saint-Simonian Influence 156 

VI. Sociology: Comte and His Successors 168 


NOTES 207 

INDEX 251 




Part One 


Systems which have universally owed their origin to 
the lucubrations of those who were acquainted with one 
art, but ignorant of the other; who therefore explained 
to themselves the phenomena, in that which was strange 
to them, by those in that which was familiar; and with 
whom, upon that account, the analogy, which in other 
writers gives occasion to a few ingenious similitudes, be- 
came the great hinge on which every thing turned. 
ADAM SMITH (Essay on the History of Astronomy). 



IN THE COURSE of its slow development in the eighteenth and early 
nineteenth centuries the study of economic and social phenomena was 
guided in the choice of its methods in the main by the nature of the 
problems it had to face. 1 It gradually developed a technique appro- 
priate to these problems without much reflection on the character of 
the methods or on their relation to that of other disciplines of knowl- 
edge. Students of political economy could describe it alternatively as 
a branch of science or of moral or social philosophy without the least 
qualms whether their subject was scientific or philosophical. The 
term "science" had not yet assumed the special narrow meaning it 
has today, 2 nor was there any distinction made which singled out the 
physical or natural sciences and attributed to them a special dignity. 
Those who devoted themselves to those fields indeed readily chose 
the designation of philosophy when they were concerned with the 
more general aspects of their problems, 8 and occasionally we even 
find "natural philosophy" contrasted with "moral science." 

During the first half of the nineteenth century a new attitude made 
its appearance. The term science came more and more to be confined 
to the physical and biological disciplines which at the same time 
began to claim for themselves a special rigorousness and certainty 
which distinguished them from all others. Their success was such that 
they soon came to exercise an extraordinary fascination on those 
working in other fields, who rapidly began to imitate their teaching 
and vocabulary. Thus the tyranny commenced which the methods 
and technique of the Sciences 4 in the narrow sense of the term have 
ever since exercised over the other subjects. These became increas- 



ingly concerned to vindicate their equal status by showing that their 
methods were the same as those of their brilliantly successful sisters 
rather than by adapting their methods more and more to their own 
particular problems. And, although in the hundred and twenty years 
or so, during which this ambition to imitate Science in its methods 
rather than its spirit has now dominated social studies, it has con* 
tributed scarcely anything to our understanding of social phenomena, 
not only does it continue to confuse and discredit the work of the 
social disciplines, but demands for further attempts in this direction 
are still presented to us as the latest revolutionary innovations which, 
if adopted, will secure rapid undreamed of progress. 

Let it be said at once, however, that those who were loudest in 
these demands were rarely themselves men who had noticeably en- 
riched our knowledge of the Sciences. From Francis Bacon, the Lord 
Chancellor, who will forever remain the prototype of the "dema- 
gogue of science," as he has justly been called, to Auguste Comte 
and the "physicalists" of our own day, the claims for the exclusive 
virtues of the specific methods employed by the natural sciences were 
mostly advanced by men whose right to speak on behalf of the scien- 
tists were not above suspicion, and who indeed in many cases had 
shown in the Sciences themselves as much bigoted prejudice as in 
their attitude to other subjects. Just as Francis Bacon opposed Co- 
pernican Astronomy, 5 and as Comte taught that any too minute in- 
vestigation of the phenomena by such instruments as the microscope 
was harmful and should be suppressed by the spiritual power of the 
positive society, because it tended to upset the laws of positive sci- 
ence, so this dogmatic attitude has so often misled men of this type 
in their own field that there should have been little reason to pay too 
much deference to their views about problems still more distant from 
the fields from which they derived their inspiration. 

There is yet another qualification which the reader ought to keep 
in mind throughout the following discussion. The methods which sci- 
entists or men fascinated by the natural sciences have so often tried 
to force upon the social sciences were not always necessarily those 
which the scientists in fact followed in their own field, but rather 
those which they believed that they employed. This is not necessarily 
the same thing. The scientist reflecting and theorizing about his pro- 


cedure is not always a reliable guide. The views about the character 
of the method of Science have undergone various fashions during the 
last few generations, while we must assume that the methods actually 
followed have remained essentially the same. But since it was what 
scientists believed that they did, and even the views which they had 
held some time before, which have influenced the social sciences, the 
following comments on the methods of the natural sciences also do 
not necessarily claim to be a true account of what the scientists in 
fact do, but an account of the views on the nature of scientific method 
which were dominant in recent times. 

The history of this influence, the channels through which it op- 
erated, and die direction in which it affected social developments, 
will occupy us throughout the series of historical studies to which the 
present essay is designed to serve as an introduction. Before we trace 
the historical course of this influence and its effects, we shall here 
attempt to describe its general characteristics and the nature of the 
problems to which the unwarranted and unfortunate extensions 
of the habits of thought of the physical and biological sciences have 
given rise. There are certain typical elements of this attitude which 
we shall meet again and again and whose prima facie plausibility 
makes it necessary to examine them with some care. While in the 
particular historical instances it is not always possible to show how 
these characteristic views are connected with or derived from the 
habits of thought of the scientists, this is easier in a systematic 

It need scarcely be emphasized that nothing we shall have to say 
is aimed against the methods of Science in their proper sphere or is 
intended to throw the slightest doubt on their value. But to preclude 
any misunderstanding on this point we shall, wherever we are con- 
cerned, not with the general spirit of disinterested inquiry but with 
slavish imitation of the method and language of Science, speak of 
"scientism" or the "scientistic" prejudice. Although these terms are 
not completely unknown in English, 6 (hey are actually borrowed 
from the French, where in recent years they have come to be 
generally used in very much the same sense in which they will be 
used here. 7 It should be noted that, in the sense in which we shall 
use these terms, they describe, of course, an attitude which is 


decidedly unscientific in the true sense of the word, since it involves 
a mechanical and uncritical application of habits of thought to fields 
different from those in which they have been formed. The scientistic 
as distinguished from the scientific view is not an unprejudiced 
but a very prejudiced approach which, before it has considered its 
subject, claims to know what is the most appropriate way of in- 
vestigating it. 8 

It would be convenient if a similar term were available to describe 
the characteristic mental attitude of the engineer which, although 
in many respects closely related to scientism, is yet distinct from it 
but which we intend to consider here in connection with the latter. 
No single word of equal expressiveness suggests itself, however, and 
we shall have to be content to describe this second element so 
characteristic of 19th and 20th century thought as the "engineering 
type of mind." 



BEFORE WE CAN understand the reasons for the trespasses of scien- 
tism we must try to understand the struggle which Science itself had 
to fight against concepts and ideas which were as injurious to its 
progress as the scientistic prejudice now threatens to become to the 
progress of the social studies. Although we live now in an atmos- 
phere where the concepts and habits of thoughts of everyday life 
are to a high degree influenced by the ways of thinking of Science, we 
must not forget that the Sciences had in their beginning to fight their 
way in a world where most concepts had been formed from our 
relations to other men and in interpreting their actions. It is only 
natural that the momentum gained in that struggle should carry 
Science beyond the mark and create a situation where the danger is 
now the opposite one of the predominance of scientism impeding 
the progress of the understanding of society. 9 But even if the pendulum 
has now definitely swung in the opposite direction, only confusion 
could result if we failed to recognize the factors which have created 
this attitude and which justify it in its proper sphere. 

There were three main obstacles to the advance of modern 
Science against which it has struggled ever since its birth during the 
Renaissance; and much of the history of its progress could be 
written in terms of its gradual overcoming of these difficulties. The 
first, although not the most important, was that for various reasons 
scholars had grown used to devoting most of their effort to analyzing 
other people's opinions: this was so not only because in the disciplines 
most developed at that time, like theology and law, this was the actual 
object, but even more because, during the decline of Science in the 



Middle Ages, there seemed to be no better way of arriving at the 
truth about nature than to study the work of the great men of the 
past. More important was the second fact, the belief that the "ideas" 
of the things possessed some transcendental reality, and that by 
analyzing ideas we could learn something or everything about the 
attributes of the real things. The third and perhaps most important 
fact was that man had begun everywhere to interpret the events in 
the external world after his own image, as animated by a mind like 
his own, and that the natural sciences therefore met everywhere 
explanations by analogy with the working of the human mind, with 
"anthropomorphic" or "animistic" theories which searched for a pur- 
posive design and were satisfied if they had found in it the proof of 
the operation of a designing mind. 

Against all this the persistent effort of modern Science has been 
to get down to "objective facts," to cease studying what men thought 
about nature or regarding the given concepts as true images of the 
real world, and, above all, to discard all theories which pretended to 
explain phenomena by imputing to them a directing mind like our 
own. Instead, its main task became to revise and reconstruct the 
concepts formed from ordinary experience on the basis of a syste- 
matic testing of the phenomena, so as to be better able to recognize 
the particular as an instance of a general rule. In the course of this 
process not only the provisional classification which the commonly 
used concepts provided, but also the first distinctions between the 
different perceptions which our senses convey to us, had to give way 
to a completely new and different way in which we learned to order 
or classify the events of the external world. 

The tendency to abandon all anthropomorphic elements in the 
discussion of the external world has in its most extreme development 
even led to the belief that the demand for "explanation" itself is 
based on an anthropomorphic interpretation of events and that all 
Science ought to aim at is a complete description of nature. 10 There 
is, as we shall see, that element of truth in the first part of this conten- 
tion that we can understand and explain human action in a way we 
cannot with physical phenomena, and that consequently the term 
"explain" tends to remain charged with a meaning not applicable 
to physical phenomena. 11 The actions of other men were probably 


the first experiences which made man ask the question "why?" and 
it took him a long time to learn, and he has not yet fully learned, 12 
that with events other than human actions he could not expect the 
same kind of "explanation" as he can hope to obtain in the case of 
human behavior. ' 

That the ordinary concepts of the kind of things that surround us 
do not provide an adequate classification which enables us to state 
general rules about their behavior in different circumstances, and 
that in order to do so we have to replace them by a different classifi- 
cation of events is familiar. It may, however, still sound surprising 
that what is true of these provisional abstractions should also be 
true of the very sense qualities which most of us are inclined to regard 
as the ultimate reality. But although it is less familiar that science 
breaks up and replaces the system of classification which our sense 
qualities represent, yet this is precisely what Science does. It begins 
with the realization that things which appear to us the same do not 
always behave in the same manner, and that things which appear 
different to us sometimes prove in all other respects to behave in 
the same way; and it proceeds from this experience to substitute 
for the classification of events which our senses provide a new one 
which groups together not what appears alike but what proves to 
behave in the same manner in similar circumstances. 

While the naive mind tends to assume that external events which 
our senses register in the same or in a different manner must be 
similar or different in more respects than merely in the way in which 
they affect our senses, the systematic testing of Science shows that 
this is frequently not true. It constantly shows that the "facts" are 
different from "appearances." We learn to regard as alike or unlike 
not simply what by itself looks, feels, smells, etc., alike or unlike, 
but what regularly appears in the same spatial and temporal context. 
And we learn that the same constellation of simultaneous sense per- 
ceptions may prove to proceed from different "facts," or that different 
combinations of sense qualities may stand for the same "fact." A 
white powder with a certain weight and "feel" and without taste 
or smell may prove to be any one of a number of different things 
according as it appears in different circumstances or after different 
combinations of other phenomena, or as it produces different results 


if combined in certain ways with other things. The systematic 
testing of behavior in different circumstances will thus often show 
that things which to our senses appear different behave in the same 
or at least a very similar manner. We may not only find that, e.g., 
a blue thing which we see in a certain light or after eating a certain 
drug is the same thing as the green thing which we see in different 
circumstances, or that what appears to have an elliptical shape may 
prove to be identical with what at a different angle appears to be 
circular, but we may also find that phenomena which appear as 
different as ice and water are "really" the same "thing." 

This process of re-classifying "objects" which our senses have 
already classified in one way, of substituting for the "secondary" 
qualities in which our senses arrange external stimuli a new classifi- 
cation based on consciously established relations between classes of 
events is, perhaps, the most characteristic aspect of the procedure 
of the natural sciences. The whole history of modern Science proves 
to be a process of progressive emancipation from our innate classifica- 
tion of the external stimuli till in the end they completely disappear 
so that "physical science has now reached a stage of development 
that renders it impossible to express observable occurrences in lan- 
guage appropriate to what is perceived by our senses. The only 
appropriate language is that of mathematics," 18 i.e., the discipline 
developed to describe complexes of relationships between elements 
which have no attributes except these relations. While at first the 
new elements into which the physical world was "analyzed" were 
still endowed with "qualities," i.e., conceived as in principle visible 
or touchable, neither electrons nor waves, neither the atomic struc- 
ture nor electromagnetic fields can be adequately represented by 
mechanical models. 

The new world which man thus creates in his mind, and which 
consists entirely of entities which cannot be perceived by our senses, 
is yet in a definite way related to the world of our senses. It serves, 
indeed, to explain the world of our senses. The world of Science 
might in fact be described as no more than a set of rules which 
enables us to trace the connections between different complexes 
of sense perceptions. But the point is that the attempts to establish 
such uniform rules which the perceptible phenomena obey have been 


unsuccessful so long as we accepted as natural units, given entities, 
such constant complexes of sense qualities as we can simultaneously 
perceive. In their place new entities, "constructs," are created which 
can be defined only in terms of sense perceptions obtained of the 
"same" thing in different circumstances and at different times a 
procedure which implies the postulate that the thing has in some 
sense remained the same although all its perceptible attributes may 
have changed. 

In other words, although the theories of physical science at the 
stage which has now been reached can no longer be stated in terms 
of sense qualities, their significance is due to the fact that we pos- 
sess rules, a "key," which enables us to translate them into state- 
ments about perceptible phenomena. One might compare the relation 
of modern physical theory to the world of our senses to that between 
the different ways in which one might "know" a dead language 
existing only in inscriptions in peculiar characters. The combinations 
of different characters of which these inscriptions are composed and 
which are the only form in which the language occurs correspond to 
the different combinations of sense qualities. As we come to know 
the language we gradually learn that different combinations of these 
characters may mean the same thing and that in different contexts 
the same group of characters may mean different things. 14 As we 
learn to recognize these new entities we penetrate into a new world 
where the units are different from the letters and obey in their rela- 
tions definite laws not recognizable in the sequence of the individual 
letters. We can describe the laws of these new units, the laws of 
grammar, and all that can be expressed by combining the words 
according to these laws, without ever referring to the individual 
letters or the principle on which they are combined to make up the 
signs for whole words. It would be possible, e.g., to know all about 
the grammar of Chinese or Greek and the meaning of all the 
words in these languages without knowing Chinese or Greek charac- 
ters (or the sounds of the Chinese or Greek words). Yet if Chinese 
or Greek occurred only written in their respective characters, all 
this knowledge would be of as little use as knowledge of the laws of 
nature in terms of abstract entities or constructs without knowledge 


of the rules by which these can be translated into statements about 
phenomena perceptible by our senses. 

As in our description of the structure of the language there is no 
need for a description of the way in which the different units are 
made up from various combinations of letters (or sounds), so in our 
theoretical description of nature the different sense qualities through 
which we perceive nature disappear. They are no longer treated as 
part of the object and come to be regarded merely as ways in which 
we spontaneously perceive or classify external stimuli. 15 

The problem how man has come to classify external stimuli in the 
particular way which we know as sense qualities does not concern 
us here. 16 There are only two connected points which must be briefly 
mentioned now and to which we must return later. One is that, once 
we have learnt that the things in the external world show uniformity 
in their behavior towards each other only if we group them in a way 
different from that in which they appear to our senses, the question 
why they appear to us in that particular way, and especially why 
they appear in the same 17 way to different people becomes a genuine 
problem calling for an answer. The second is that the fact that differ- 
ent men do perceive different things in a similar manner which does 
not correspond to any known relation between these things in the 
external world, must be regarded as a significant datum of experience 
which must be the starting point in any discussion of human be- 

We are not interested here in the methods of the Sciences for their 
own sake and we cannot follow up this topic further. The point 
which we mainly wanted to stress was that what men know or think 
about the external world or about themselves, their concepts and even 
the subjective qualities of their sense perceptions are to Science never 
ultimate reality, data to be accepted. Its concern is not what men 
think about the world and how they consequently behave, but what 
they ought to think. The concepts which men actually employ, 
the way in which they see nature, is to the scientist necessarily a 
provisional affair and his task is to change this picture, to change 
the concepts in use so as to be able to make more definite and more 
certain our statements about the new classes of events. 

There is one consequence of all this which in view of what 


follows requires a few more words. It is the special significance 
which numerical statements and quantitative measurements have in 
the natural sciences. There is a widespread impression that the main 
importance of this quantitative nature of most natural sciences is their 
greater precision. This is not so. It is not merely adding precision to 
a procedure which would be possible also without the mathematical 
form of expression it is of the essence of this process of breaking 
up our immediate sense data and of substituting for a description in 
terms of sense qualities one in terms of elements which possess no 
attributes but these relations to each other. It is a necessary part 
of the general effort of getting away from the picture of nature 
which man has now, of substituting for the classification of events 
which our senses provide another based on the relations established 
by systematic testing and experimenting. 

To return to our more general conclusion: the world in which 
Science is interested is not that of our given concepts or even sensa- 
tions. Its aim is to produce a new organization of all our experience 
of the external world, and in doing so it has not only to remodel our 
concepts but also to get away from the sense qualities and to replace 
them by a different classification of events. The picture which man 
has actually formed of the world and which guides him well enough 
in his daily life, his perceptions and concepts, are for Science not an 
object of study but an imperfect instrument to be improved. Nor is 
Science as such interested in the relation of man to things, in the way 
in which man's existing view of the world leads him to act. It is 
rather such a relation, or better a continuous process of changing 
these relationships. When the scientist stresses that he studies objec- 
tive facts he means that he tries to study things independently of 
what men think or do about them. The views people hold about 
the external world is to him always a stage to be overcome. 

But what are the consequences of the fact that people perceive the 
world and each other through sensations and concepts which are 
organized in a mental structure common to all of them? What 
can we say about the whole network of activities in which men 
are guided by the kind of knowledge they have and a great part of 
which at any time is common to most of them? While Science is all 
the time busy revising the picture of the external world that man 


possesses, and while to it this picture is always provisional, the fact 
that man has a definite picture, and that the picture of all beings 
whom we recognize as thinking men and whom we can understand 
is to some extent alike, is no less a reality of great consequence and 
the cause of certain events. Until Science had literally completed its 
work and not left the slightest unexplained residue in man's intel- 
lectual processes, the facts of our mind must remain not only data 
to be explained but also data on which the explanation of human 
action guided by those mental phenomena must be based. Here a 
new set of problems arises with which the scientist does not directly 
deal. Nor is it obvious that the particular methods to which he has 
become used would be appropriate for these problems. The question 
is here not how far man's picture of the external world fits the facts, 
but how by his actions, determined by the views and concepts he 
possesses, man builds up another world of which the individual 
becomes a part. And by "the views and concepts people hold" we 
do not mean merely their knowledge of external nature. We mean all 
they know and believe about themselves, about other people, and 
about the external world, in short everything which determines their 
actions, including science itself. 

This is the field to which the social studies or the "moral sciences" 
address themselves. 



BEFORE WE PROCEED to consider the effect of scientism on the 
study of society it will be expedient brief ly""to survey the peculiar' 
object and^the methods of the social studies. Vhey deal, not with 
tBe relations between things, but with the relations between men 
and llhmgs drtheT relations between man andjnan^They are con" 
berned with man's actions, and their aim is to explain theTunintended 
or undesigi^nK^^ 

Not all the disciplines of knowledge which are concerned with the 
life of men in groups, however, raise problems which differ in any 
important respect from those of the natural sciences. The spread of 
contagious diseases is evidently a problem closely connected with 
the life of man in society and yet its study has none of the special 
characteristics of the social sciences in the narrower sense of the 
term. Similarly the study of heredity, or the study of nutrition, or the 
investigation of changes in the number or age composition of popula- 
tions, do not differ significantly from similar studies of animals. 18 
And (he same applies to certain branches of anthropology, or eth- 
nology, in so far as they are concerned with physical attributes of 
men. There are, in other words, natural sciences of man which do 
not necessarily raise problems with which we cannot cope with the 
methods of the natural sciences. Wherever we are concerned with 
unconscious reflexes or processes in the human body there is no ob- 
stacle to treating and investigating them "mechanically" as caused by 
objectively observable external events. They take place without the 
knowledge of the man concerned and without his having power to 
modify them; and the conditions under which they are produced can 



be established by external observation without recourse to the as- 
sumption that the person observed classifies the external stimuli in 
any way differently from that in which they can be defined in purely 
physical terms. 

The social sciences in the narrower sense, i.e., those which used to 
be described as the moral sciences, 19 are concerned with man's con- 
scious or reflected action, actions where a person can be said to 
choose between various courses open to him, and here the situation 
is essentially different. The external stimulus which may be said to 
cause or occasion such actions can of course also be defined in purely 
physical terms. But if we tried to do so for the purposes of explain- 
ing human action, we would confine ourselves to less than we know 
about the situation. It is not because we have found two things to 
behave alike in relation to other things, but because they appear alike 
to us, that we expect them to appear alike to other people. We know 
that people will react in the same way to external stimuli which ac- 
cording to all objective tests are different, and perhaps also that they 
will react in a completely different manner to a physically identical 
stimulus if it affects their bodies in different circumstances or at a dif- 
ferent point. We know, in other words, that in his conscious decisions 
man classifies external stimuli in a way which we know solely from 
our own subjective experience of this kind of classification. We take 
it for granted that other men treat various things as alike or unlike 
just as we do, although no objective test, no knowledge of the rela- 
tions of these things to other parts of the external world justifies this. 
Our procedure is based on the experience that other people as a rule 
(though not always e.g., not if they are colorblind or mad) classify 
their sense impressions as we do. 

But we not only know this. It would be impossible to explain or 
understand human action without making use of this knowledge. 
People do behave in the same manner towards things, not because 
these things are identical in a physical sense, but because they have 
learnt to classify them as belonging to the same group, because they 
can put them to the same use or expect from them what to the people 
concerned is an equivalent effect. In fact, most of the objects of 
social or human action are not "objective facts" in the special narrow 
sense in which this term is used by the Sciences and contrasted to 


"opinions," and they cannot at all be defined in physical terms. So 
far as human actions are concerned the things are what the acting 
people think they are. 

This is best shown by an example for which we can choose almost 
any object of human action. Take the concept of a "tool" or "instru- 
ment," or of any particular tool such as a hammer or a barometer. 
It is easily seen that these concepts cannot be interpreted to refer to 
"objective facts," i.c., to things irrespective of what people think 
about them. Careful logical analysis of these concepts will show that 
they all express relationships between several (at least three) terms, 
of which one is the acting or thinking person, the other some desired 
or imagined effect, and the third a thing in the ordinary sense. If the 
reader will attempt a definition he will soon find that he cannot give 
one without using some terms such as "suitable for" or "intended 
for" or some other expression referring to the use for which it is de- 
signed by somebody. 20 And a definition which is to comprise all in- 
stances of the class will not contain any reference to its substance, or 
shape, or other physical attribute. An ordinary hammer and a steam- 
hammer, or ah aneroid barometer and a mercury barometer, have 
nothing in common except the purpose 21 for which men think they 
can be used. 

It must not be objected that these are merely instances of abstrac- 
tions to arrive at generic terms just as those used in the physical sci- 
ences. The point is that they are abstractions from all the physical 
attributes of the things in question and that their definitions must run 
entirely in terms of mental attitudes of men towards the things. The 
significant difference between the two views of the things stands out 
clearly if we think e.g. of the problem of the archaeologist trying to 
determine whether what looks like a stone implement is in truth an 
"artifact," made by man, or merely a chance product of nature. 
There is no way of deciding this but by trying to understand the 
working of the mind of prehistoric man, of attempting to understand 
how he would have made such an implement. If we are not more 
aware that this is what we actually do in such cases and that we 
necessarily rely on our own knowledge of the working of a human 
mind, this is so mainly because of the impossibility of conceiving of 


an observer who does not possess a human mind and interprets what 
he sees in terms of the working of his own mind. 

There are no better terms available to describe this difference be- 
tween the approach of the natural and the social sciences than to call 
the former "objective" and the latter "subjective." Yet these terms 
are ambiguous and might prove misleading without further explana- 
tion. While for the natural scientist the contrast between objective 
facts and subjective opinions is a simple one, the distinction cannot 
as readily be applied to the object of the social sciences. The reason 
for this is that the object, the "facts" of the social sciences are also 
opinions not opinions of the student of the social phenomena, of 
course, but opinions of those whose actions produce the object of 
the social scientist. In one sense his facts are thus as little "subjec- 
tive" as those of the natural sciences, because they are independent 
of the particular observer; what he studies is not determined by his 
fancy or imagination but is in the same manner given to the observa- 
tion by different people. But in another sense in which we distinguish 
facts from opinions, the facts of the social sciences are merely opin- 
ions, views held by the people whose actions we study. They differ 
from the facts of the physical sciences in being beliefs or opinions 
held by particular people, beliefs which as such are our data, irre- 
spective of whether they are true or false, and which, moreover, we 
cannot directly observe in the minds of the people but which we can 
recognize from what they do and say merely because we have our- 
selves a mind similar to theirs. 

In the sense in which we here use the contrast between the sub- 
jectivist approach of the social sciences and the objectivist approach 
of the natural sciences it says little more than what is commonly ex- 
pressed by saying that the former deal in the first instance with the 
phenomena of individual minds, or mental phenomena, and not di- 
rectly with material phenomena. They deal with phenomena which 
can be understood only because the object of our study has a mind 
of a structure similar to our own. That this is so is no less an empirical 
fact than our knowledge of the external world. It is shown not merely 
by the possibility of communicating with other people we act on 
this knowledge every time we speak or write; it is confirmed by the 
very results of our study of the external world. So long as it was 


naively assumed that all the sense qualities (or their relations) which 
different men had in common were properties of the external world, 
it could be argued that our knowledge of other minds is no more 
than our common knowledge of the external world. But once we 
have learnt that our senses make things appear to us alike or different 
which prove to be alike or different in none of their relations between 
themselves, but only in the way in which they affect our senses, this 
fact that men classify external stimuli in a particular way becomes a 
significant fact of experience. While qualities disappear from our sci- 
entific picture of the external world they must remain part of our 
scientific picture of the human mind. In fact the elimination of quali- 
ties from our picture of the external world does not mean that these 
qualities do not "exist," but that when we study qualities we study 
not the physical world but the mind of man. 

In some connections, for instance when we distinguish between 
the "objective" properties of things which manifest themselves in 
their relations to each other, and the properties merely attributed to 
them by men, it might be preferable to contrast "objective" with "at- 
tributed," instead of using the ambiguous term "subjective." The 
word "attributed" is, however, only of limited usefulness. The main 
reasons why it is expedient to retain the terms "subjective" and "ob- 
jective" for the contrast with which we are concerned, although they 
inevitably carry with them some misleading connotations, are not 
only that most of the other available terms, such as "mental" and 
"material," carry with them an even worse burden of metaphysical 
associations, and that at least in economics 22 the term "subjective" 
has long been used precisely in the sense in which we use it here. 
What is more important is that the term "subjective" stresses another 
important fact to which we shall yet have to refer: that the knowl- 
edge and beliefs of different people, while possessing that common 
structure which makes communication possible, will yet be different 
and often conflicting in many respects. If we could assume that all 
the knowledge and beliefs of different people were identical, or if we 
were concerned with a single mind, it would not matter whether we 
described it as an "objective" fact or as a subjective phenomenon. 
But the concrete knowledge which guides the action of any group of 
people never exists as a consistent and coherent body. It only exists 


in the dispersed, incomplete, and inconsistent form in which it ap- 
pears in many individual minds, and this dispersion and imperfection 
of all knowledge is one of the basic facts from which the social sci- 
ences have to start. What philosophers and logicians often con- 
temptuously dismiss as "mere" imperfections of the human mind be- 
comes in the social sciences a basic fact of crucial importance. We 
shall later see how the opposite "absolutist" view, as if knowledge, 
and particularly the concrete knowledge of particular circumstances, 
were given "objectively," i.e., as if it were the same for all people, is a 
source of constant errors in the social sciences. 

The "tool" or "instrument" which we have before used as an 
illustration of the objects of human action can be matched by similar 
instances from any other branch of social study. A "word" or a "sen- 
tence," a "crime" or a "punishment," 23 are of course not objective 
facts in the sense that they can be defined without referring to our 
knowledge of people's conscious intentions with regard to them. 
And the same is quite generally true wherever we have to explain 
human behavior towards things; these things must then not be de- 
fined in terms of what we might find out about them by the objec- 
tive methods of science, but in terms of what the person acting thinks 
about them. A medicine or a cosmetic, e.g., for the purposes of social 
study, are no! what cures an ailment or improves a person's looks, 
but what people think will have that effect. Any knowledge which 
we may happen to possess about the true nature of the material thing, 
but which the people whose action we want to explain do not pos- 
sess, is as little relevant to the explanation of their actions as our 
private disbelief in the efficacy of a magic charm will help us to 
understand the behavior of the savage who believes in it. If in investi- 
gating our contemporary society the "laws of nature" which we have 
to use as a datum because they affect people's actions are approxi- 
mately the same as those which figure in the works of the natural 
scientists, this is for our purposes an accident which must not deceive 
us about the different character of these laws in the two fields. What 
is relevant in the study of society is not whether these laws of nature 
are true in any objective sense, but solely whether they are believed 
and acted upon by the people. If the current "scientific" knowledge 
of the society which we study included the belief that the soil will 


bear no fruit till certain rites or incantations are performed, this 
would be quite as important for us as any law of nature which we 
now believe to be correct. And all the "physical laws of production" 
which we meet, e.g., in economics, are not physical laws in the sense 
of the physical sciences but people's beliefs about what they can do. 

What is true about the relations of men to things is, of course, 
even more true of the relations between men, which for the purposes 
of social study cannot be defined in the objective terms of the physi- 
cal sciences but only in terms of human beliefs. Even such a seem- 
ingly purely biological relationship as that between parent and child 
is in social study not defined in physical terms and cannot be so de- 
fined for their purposes: it makes no difference with regard to peo- 
ple's actions whether their belief that a particular child is their nat- 
ural offspring is mistaken or not. 

All this stands out most clearly in that among the social sciences 
whose theory has been most highly developed, economics. And it is 
probably no exaggeration to say that every important advance in eco- 
nomic theory during the last hundred years was a further step in the 
consistent application of subjectivism. 24 That the objects of economic 
activity cannot be defined in objective terms but only with reference 
to a human purpose goes without saying. Neither a "commodity" or 
an "economic good," nor "food" or "money," can be defined in 
physical terms but only in terms of views people hold about things. 
Economic theory has nothing to say about the little round disks of 
metal as which an objective or materialist view might try to define 
money. It has nothing to say about iron or steel, timber or oil, or 
wheat or eggs as such. The history of any particular commodity in- 
deed shows that as human knowledge changes the same material 
thing may represent quite different economic categories. Nor could 
we distinguish in physical terms whether two men barter or exchange 
or whether they are playing some game or performing some religious 
ritual. Unless we can understand what the acting people mean by 
their actions any attempt to explain them, i.e., to subsume them 
under rules which connect similar situations with similar actions, are 
bound to fail. 25 

This essentially subjective character of all economic theory, which 
it has developed much more clearly than most other branches of the 


social sciences, 26 but which I believe it has in common with all the 
social sciences in the narrower sense, is best shown by a closer con- 
sideration of one of its simplest theorems, e.g., the "law of rent." In 
its original form this was a proposition about changes in the value 
of a thing defined in physical terms, namely land. It stated, in effect, 27 
that changes in the value of the commodities in the production of 
which land was required would cause much greater changes in the 
value of land than in the value of the other factors whose co-opera- 
tion was required. In this form it is an empirical generalization which 
tells us neither why nor under what conditions it will be true. In 
modern economics its place is taken by two distinct propositions of 
different character which together lead to the same conclusion. One 
is part of pure economic theory and asserts that whenever in the pro- 
duction of one commodity different (scarce) factors are required in 
proportions which can be varied, and of which one can be used only 
for this (or only for comparatively few) purposes while the others 
are of a more general usefulness, a change in the value of the product 
will affect the value of the former more than that of the latter. The 
second proposition is the empirical statement that land is as a rule in 
the position of the first kind of factor, i.e. that people know of many 
more uses for their labor than they will know for a particular piece 
of land. The first of these propositions, like all propositions of pure 
economic theory, is a statement about the implications of certain 
human attitudes towards things and as such necessarily true irrespec- 
tive of time and place. The second is an assertion that the conditions 
postulated in the first proposition prevail at a given time and with re- 
spect to a particular piece of land, because the people dealing with it 
hold certain beliefs about its usefulness and the usefulness of other 
things required in order to cultivate it. As an empirical generalization 
it can of course be disproved and frequently will be disproved. If, e.g., 
a piece of land is used to produce some special fruit the cultivation of 
which requires a certain rare skill, the effect of a fall in the demand for 
the fruit may fall exclusively on the wages of the men with the special 
skill, while the value of the land may remain practically unaffected. 
In such a situation it would be labor to which the "law of rent" ap- 
plies. But when we ask: "why?" or: "how can I find out whether the 
law of rent will apply in any particular case?" no information about 


the physical attributes of the land, the labor, or the product can give 
us the answer. It depends on the subjective factors stated in the theo- 
retical law of rent; and only in so far as we can find out what the 
knowledge and beliefs of the people concerned are in the relevant re- 
spects shall we be in a position to predict in what manner a change 
in the price of the product will affect the prices of the factors. What 
is true of the theory of rent is true of the theory of price generally: 
it has nothing to say about the behavior of the price of iron or wool, 
of things of such and such physical properties, but only about things 
about which people have certain beliefs and which they want to use 
in a certain manner. And our explanation of a particular price phe- 
nomenon can therefore also never be affected by any additional 
knowledge which we (the observers) acquire about the good con- 
cerned, but only by additional knowledge about what the people 
dealing with it think about it. 

We cannot here enter into a similar discussion of the more com- 
plex phenomena with which economic theory is concerned and where 
in recent years progress has been particularly closely connected with 
the advance of subjectivism. We can only point to the new problems 
which these developments make appear more and more central, such 
as the problem of the compatibility of intentions and expectations of 
different people, of the division of knowledge between them, and the 
process by which the relevant knowledge is acquired and expecta- 
tions formed. 28 We are not here concerned, however, with the spe- 
cific problems of economics, but with the common character of all 
disciplines which deal with the results of conscious human action. 
The points which we want to stress are that in all such attempts we 
must start from what men think and mean to do: from the fact that 
the individuals which compose society are guided in their actions by 
a classification of things or events according to a system of sense 
qualities and of concepts which has a common structure and which 
we know because we, too, are men; and that the concrete knowledge 
which different individuals possess will differ in important respects. 
Not only man's i^tion towards external objects but also all the re- 
lations between men and all the social institutions can be understood 
only in terms of what men think about them. Society as we know it 
is, as it were, built up from the concepts and ideas held by the peo- 


pie; and social phenomena can be recognized by us and have mean- 
ing to us only as they are reflected in the minds of men. 

The structure of men's minds, the common principle on which they 
classify external events, provide us with the knowledge of the recur- 
rent elements of which different social structures are built up and in 
terms of which we can alone describe and explain them. 29 While con- 
cepts or ideas can, of course, exist only in individual minds, and 
while, in particular, it is only in individual minds that different ideas 
can act upon another, it is not the whole of the individual minds in 
all their complexity, but the individual concepts, the views people 
have formed of each other and of the things, which form the true ele- 
ments of the social structure. If the social structure can remain the 
same although different individuals succeed each other at particular 
points, this is not because the individuals which succeed each other 
are completely identical, but because they succeed each other in par- 
ticular relations, in particular attitudes they take towards other peo- 
ple and as the objects of particular views held by other people about 
them. The individuals are merely the foci in the network of relation- 
ships and it is the various attitudes of the individuals towards each 
other (or their similar or different attitudes towards physical objects) 
which form the recurrent, recognizable and familiar elements of the 
structure. If one policeman succeeds another at a particular post, this 
does not mean that the new man will in all respects be identical with 
his predecessor, but merely that he succeeds him in certain attitudes 
towards his fellow man and as the object of certain attitudes of his 
fellow men which are relevant to his function as policeman. But this 
is sufficient to preserve a constant structural element which can be 
separated and studied in isolation. 

While we can recognize these elements of human relationships 
only because they are known to us from the working of our own 
minds, this does not mean that the significance of their combination 
in a particular pattern relating different individuals must be immedi- 
ately obvious to us. It is only by the systematic and patient following 
up of the implications of many people holding certain views that we 
can understand, and often even only learn to see, the unintended and 
often uncomprehended results of the separate and yet interrelated 
actions of men in society. That in this effort to reconstruct these dif- 


ferent patterns of social relations we must relate the individual's ac- 
tion not to the objective qualities of the persons and things towards 
which he acts, but that our data must be man and the physical world 
as they appear to the men whose actions we try to explain, follows 
from the fact that only what people know or believe can enter as a 
motive into their conscious action. 



AT THIS POINT it becomes necessary briefly to interrupt the main 
argument in order to safeguard ourselves against a misconception 
which might arise from what has just been said. The stress which we 
have laid on the fact that in the social sciences our data or "facts" 
are themselves ideas or concepts must, of course, not be understood 
to mean that all the concepts with which we have to deal in the social 
sciences are of this character. There would be no room for any sci- 
entific work if this were so; and the social sciences no less than the 
natural sciences aim at revising the popular concepts which men 
have formed about the objects of their study, and at replacing them 
by more appropriate ones. The special difficulties of the social sci- 
ences, and much confusion about their character, derive precisely 
from the fact that in them ideas appear in two capacities, as it were, 
as part of their object and as ideas about that object. While in the 
natural sciences the contrast between the object of our study and our 
explanation of it coincides with the distinction between ideas and ob- 
jective facts, in the social sciences it is necessary to draw a distinc- 
tion between those ideas which are constitutive of the phenomena we 
want to explain and the ideas which either we ourselves or the very 
people whose actions we have to explain may have formed about 
these phenomena and which are not the cause of, but theories about, 
the social structures. 

This special difficulty of the social sciences is a result, not merely 
of the fact that we have to distinguish between the views held by 
the people which are the object of our study and our views about 
them, but also of the fact that the people who are our object them- 


selves not only are motivated by ideas but also form ideas about the 
undesigned results of their actions popular theories about the vari- 
ous social structures or formations which we share with them and 
which our study has to revise and improve. The danger of substitut- 
ing "concepts" (or "theories") for the "facts" is by no means absent 
in the social sciences and failure to avoid it has exercised as detri- 
mental an effect here as in the natural sciences; 30 but it appears on 
a different plane and is very inadequately expressed by the contrast 
between "ideas" and "facts." The real contrast is between ideas 
which by being held by the people become the causes of a social 
phenomenon and the ideas which people form about that phenome- 
non. That these two classes of ideas are distinct (although in different 
contexts the distinction may have to be drawn differently 31 ) can 
easily be shown. The changes in the opinions which people hold 
about a particular commodity and which we recognize as the cause of 
a change in the price of that commodity stand clearly in a different 
class from the ideas which the same people may have formed about 
the causes of the change in price or about the "nature of value" in 
general. Similarly, the beliefs and opinions which lead a number of 
people regularly to repeat certain acts, e.g. to produce, sell, or buy 
certain quantities of commodities, are entirely different from the 
ideas they may have formed about the whole of the "society," or the 
"economic system," to which they belong and which the aggregate of 
all their actions constitutes. The first kind of opinions and beliefs are 
a condition of the existence of the "wholes" which would not exist 
without them; they are, as we have said, "constitutive," essential for 
the existence of the phenomenon which the people refer to as "so- 
ciety" or the "economic system," but which will exist irrespectively 
of the concepts which the people have formed about these wholes. 

It is very important that we should carefully distinguish between 
the motivating or constitutive opinions on the one hand and the 
speculative or explanatory views which people have formed about 
the wholes; confusion between the two is a source of constant danger. 
Is it the ideas which the popular mind has formed about such collec- 
tives as "society" or the "economic system," "capitalism" or "im- 
perialism," and other such collective entities, which the social sci- 
entist must regard as no more than provisional theories, popular 


abstractions, and which he must not mistake for facts. That he con- 
sistently refrains from treating these pseudo-entities as "facts," and 
that he systematically starts from the concepts which guide indi- 
viduals in their actions and not from the results of their theorizing 
about their actions, is the characteristic feature of that methodologi- 
cal individualism which is closely connected with the subjectivism of 
the social sciences. The scientistic approach, on the other hand, be- 
cause it is afraid of starting from the subjective concepts determining 
individual actions, is, as we shall presently see, regularly led into the 
very mistake it attempts to avoid, namely of treating as facts those 
collectives which are no more than popular generalizations. Trying 
to avoid using as data the concepts held by individuals where they 
are clearly recognizable and explicitly introduced as what they are, 
people brought up in scientistic views frequently and na'ively accept 
the speculative concepts of popular usage as definite facts of the kind 
they are familiar with. 

We shall have to discuss the nature of this collectivist prejudice in- 
herent in the scientistic approach more fully in a later section. 

A few more remarks must be added about the specific theoretical 
method which corresponds to the systematic subjectivism and indi- 
vidualism of the social sciences. From the fact that it is the concepts 
and views held by individuals which are directly known to us and 
which form the elements from which we must build up, as it were, 
the more complex phenomena, follows another important difference 
between the method of the social disciplines and the natural sciences. 
While in the former it is the attitudes of individuals which are the 
familiar elements and by the combination of which we try to repro- 
duce the complex phenomena, the results of individual actions, which 
are much less known a procedure which often leads to the discovery 
of principles of structural coherence of the complex phenomena which 
had not (and perhaps could not) be established by direct observa- 
tion the physical sciences necessarily begin with die complex phe- 
nomena of nature and work backwards to infer the elements from 
which they are composed. The place where the human individual 
stands in the order of things brings it about that in one direction 
what he perceives are the comparatively complex phenomena which 
he analyzes, while in the other direction what is given to him are ele- 


ments from which those more complex phenomena are composed that 
he cannot observe as wholes. 32 While the method of the natural sci- 
ences is in this sense, analytic, the method of the social sciences is 
better described as compositive 33 or synthetic. It is the so-called 
wholes, the groups of elements which are structurally connected, 
which we learn to single out from the totality of observed phenomena 
only as a result to our systematic fitting together of the elements with 
familiar properties, and which we build up or reconstruct from the 
known properties of the elements. 

It is important to observe that in all this the various types of indi- 
vidual beliefs or attitudes are not themselves the object of our ex- 
planation, but merely the elements from which we build up the struc- 
ture of possible relationships between individuals. In so far as we 
analyze individual thought in the social sciences the purpose is not to 
explain that thought but merely to distinguish the possible types of 
elements with which we shall have to reckon in the construction of 
different patterns of social relationships. It is a mistake, to which 
careless expressions by social scientists often give countenance, to 
believe that their aim is to explain conscious action. This, if it can be 
done at all, is a different task, the task of psychology. For the social 
sciences the types of conscious action are data 84 and all they have to 
do with regard to these data is to arrange them in such orderly fash- 
ion that they can be effectively used for their task. 85 The problems 
which they try to answer arise only in so far as the conscious action 
of many men produce undesigned results, in so far as regularities are 
observed which are not the result of anybody's design. If social phe- 
nomena showed no order except in so far as they were consciously 
designed, there would indeed be no room for theoretical sciences of 
society and there would be, as is often argued, only problems of psy- 
chology. It is only in so far as some sort of order arises as a result of 
individual action but without being designed by any individual that 
a problem is raised which demands a theoretical explanation. But al- 
though people dominated by the scientistic prejudice are often in- 
clined to deny the existence of any such order (and thereby the ex- 
istence of an object for theoretical sciences of society), few if any 
would be prepared to do so consistently: that at least language shows 


a definite order which is not the result of any conscious design can 
scarcely be questioned. 

The reason of the difficulty which the natural scientist experiences 
in admitting the existence of such an order in social phenomena is 
that these orders cannot be stated in physical terms, that if we define 
the elements in physical terms no such order is visible, and that the 
units which show an orderly arrangement do not (or at least need 
not) have any physical properties in common (except that men react 
to them in the "same" way although the "sameness" of different 
people's reaction will again, as a rule, not be definable in physical 
terms). It is an order in which things behave in the same way be- 
cause they mean the same thing to man. If, instead of regarding as 
alike and unlike what appears so to the acting man, we were to take 
for our units only what Science shows to be alike or unlike, we 
should probably find no recognizable order whatever in social phe- 
nomena at least not till the natural sciences had completed their 
task of analysing all natural phenomena into their ultimate constitu- 
ents and psychology had also fully achieved the reverse task of ex- 
plaining in all detail how the ultimate units of physical science come 
to appear to man just as they do, i.e., how that apparatus of classifi- 
cation operates which our senses constitute. 

It is only in the very simplest instances that it can be shown briefly 
and without any technical apparatus how the independent actions of 
individuals will produce an order which is no part of their intentions; 
and in those instances the explanation is usually so obvious that we 
never stop to examine the type of argument which leads us to it. The 
way in which footpaths are formed in a wild broken country is such 
an instance. At first everyone will seek for himself what seems to him 
the best path. But the fact that such a path has been used once is 
likely to make it easier to traverse and therefore more likely to be 
used again; and thus gradually more and more clearly defined tracks 
arise and come to be used to the exclusion of other possible ways. 
Human movements through the region come to conform to a definite 
pattern which, although the result of deliberate decisions of many 
people, has yet not been consciously designed by anyone. This ex- 
planation of how this happens is an elementary "theory" applicable 
to hundreds of particular historical instances; and it is not the ob- 


servation of the actual growth of any particular track, and still less of 
many, from which this explanation derives its cogency, but from our 
general knowledge of how we and other people behave in the kind of 
situation in which the successive people find themselves who have to 
seek their way and who by the cumulative effect of their action create 
the path. It is the elements of the complex of events which are fa- 
miliar to us from everyday experience, but it is only by a deliberate 
effort of directed thought that we come to see the necessary effects 
of the combination of such actions by many people. We "under- 
stand" the way in which the result we observe can be produced, al- 
though we may never be in a position to watch the whole process or 
to predict its precise course and result. 

It makes no difference for our present purpose whether the process 
extends over a long period of time as it does in such cases as the evo- 
lution of money or the formation of language, or whether it is a 
process which is constantly repeated anew as in the case of the for- 
mation of prices or the direction of production under competition. 
The former instances raise theoretical (i.e. generic) problems (as 
distinguished from the specifically historical problems in the precise 
sense which we shall have to define later) which are fundamentally 
similar to the problems raised by such recurring phenomena as the 
determination of prices. Although in the study of any particular in- 
stance of the evolution of an "institution" like money or the language 
the theoretical problem will frequently be so overlaid by the con- 
sideration of the particular circumstances involved (the properly his- 
torical task), this does not alter the fact that any explanation of a 
historical process involves assumptions about the kind of circum- 
stances that can produce certain kinds of effects assumptions which, 
where we have to deal with results which were not directly willed by 
somebody, can only be stated in the form of a generic scheme, in 
other words a theory. 

The physicist who wishes to understand the problems of the social 
sciences with the help of an analogy from his own field would have 
to imagine a world in which he knew by direct observation the inside 
of the atoms and had neither the possibility of making experiments 
with lumps of matter nor opportunity to observe more than the in- 
teractions of a comparatively few atoms during a limited period. 


From his knowledge of the different kinds of atoms he could build 
up models of all the various ways in which they could combine into 
larger units and make these models more and more closely reproduce 
all the features of the few instances in which he was able to observe 
more complex phenomena. But the laws of the macrocosm which he 
could derive from his knowledge of the microcosm would always re- 
main "deductive"; they would, because of his limited knowledge of 
the data of the complex situation, scarcely ever enable him to predict 
the precise outcome of a particular situation; and he could never 
confirm them by controlled experiment although they might be dis- 
proved by the observation of events which according to his theory 
are impossible. 

In a sense some problems of theoretical astronomy are more simi- 
lar to those of the social sciences than those of any of the experi- 
mental sciences. Yet there remain important differences. While the 
astronomer aims at knowing all the elements of which his universe 
is composed, the student of social phenomena cannot hope to know 
more than the types of elements from which his universe is made up. 
He will scarcely ever know even of all the elements of which it con- 
sists and he will certainly never know all the relevant properties of 
each of them. The inevitable imperfection of the human mind be- 
comes here not only a basic datum about the object of explanation 
but, since it applies no less to the observer, also a limitation on what 
he can hope to accomplish in his attempt to explain the observed 
facts. The number of separate variables which in any particular 
social phenomenon will determine the result of a given change will 
as a rule be far too large for any human mind to master and manipu- 
late them effectively. 38 In consequence our knowledge of the prin- 
ciple by which these phenomena are produced will rarely if ever en- 
able us to predict the precise result of any concrete situation. While 
we can explain the principle on which certain phenomena are pro- 
duced and can from this knowledge exclude the possibility of certain 
results, e.g. of certain events occurring together, our knowledge will 
in a sense be only negative, i.e. it will merely enable us to preclude 
certain results but not enable us to narrow the range of possibilities 
sufficiently so that only one remains. 

The distinction between an explanation merely of the principle on 


which a phenomenon is produced and an explanation which enables 
us to predict the precise result is of great importance for the under- 
standing of the theoretical methods of the social sciences. It arises, I 
believe, also elsewhere, e.g. in biology, and certainly in psychology. 
It is, however, somewhat unfamiliar and I know no place where it is 
adequately explained. The best illustration in the field of the social 
sciences is probably the general theory of prices as represented, e.g., 
by the Walrasian or Paretian systems of equations. These systems 
show merely the principle of coherence between the prices of the 
various types of commodities of which the system is composed; but 
without knowledge of the numerical values of all the constants which 
occur in it and which we never do know, this does not enable us to 
predict the precise results which any particular change will have. 87 
Apart from this particular case, a set of equations which shows 
merely the form of a system of relationships but does not give the 
values of the constants contained in it, is perhaps the best general 
illustration of an explanation merely of the principle on which any 
phenomenon is produced. 

This must suffice as a positive description of the characteristic 
problems of the social sciences. It will become clearer as we contrast 
in the following sections the specific procedure of the social sciences 
with the most characteristic aspects of the attempts to treat their 
object after the fashion of the natural sciences. 



THE GREAT DIFFERENCES between the characteristic methods of the 
physical sciences and those of the social sciences explain why the 
natural scientist who turns to the work of the professional students 
of social phenomena so often feels that he has got among a company 
of people who habitually commit all the mortal sins which he is most 
careful to avoid, and that a science of society conforming to his 
standards does not yet exist. From this to the attempt to create a new 
science of society which satisfies his conception of Science is but a 
step. During the last four generations attempts of this kind have been 
constantly made; and though they have never produced the results 
which had been expected, and though they did not even succeed in 
creating that continuous tradition which is the symptom of a healthy 
discipline, they are repeated almost every month by someone who 
hopes thereby to revolutionize social thought. Yet, though these ef- 
forts are mostly disconnected, they regularly show certain character- 
istic features which we must now consider. These methodological 
features can be conveniently treated under the headings of "objecti- 
vism," "collectivism," and "historicism," corresponding to the "sub- 
jectivism," the "individualism," and the theoretical character of the 
developed disciplines of social study. 

The attitude which, for want of a better term, we shall call the 
"objectivism" of the scientistic approach to the study of man and 
society, has found its most characteristic expression in the various 
attempts to dispense with our subjective knowledge of the working of 
the human mind, attempts which in various forms have affected al- 
most all branches of social study. From Auguste Comte's denial of 
the possibility of introspection, through various attempts to create an 


"objective psychology," down to the behaviorism of J. B. Watson 
and the "physicalism" of O. Neurath, a long series of authors have 
attempted to do without the knowledge derived from "introspection." 
But, as can be easily shown, these attempts to avoid the use of 
knowledge which we possess are bound to break down. 

A behaviorist or physicalist, to be consistent, ought not to begin 
by observing the reactions of people to what our senses tell us are 
similar objects; he ought to confine himself to studying the reactions 
to stimuli which are identical in a strictly physical sense. He ought, 
e.g., not to study the reactions of persons who are shown a red circle 
or made to hear a certain tune, but solely the effects of a light wave 
of a certain frequency on a particular point of the retina of the 
human eye, etc., etc. No behaviorist, however, seriously contemplates 
doing so. They all take it naively for granted that what appears alike 
to us will also appear alike to other people. Though they have no 
business to do so, they make constant use of the classification of ex- 
ternal stimuli by our senses and our mind as alike or unlike, a classi- 
fication which we know only from our personal experience of it and 
which is not based on any objective tests showing that these facts 
also behave similarly in relation to each other. This applies as much 
to what we commonly regard as simple sense qualities, such as 
color, the pitch of sound, smell, etc., as to our perception of con- 
figurations (Gestalteri) by which we classify physically very different 
things as specimens of a particular "shape," e.g., as a circle or a 
certain tune. To the behaviorist or physicalist the fact that we recog- 
nize these things as similar is no problem. 

This naive attitude, however, is in no way justified by what the 
development of physical science itself teaches us. As we have seen 
before, 38 one of the main results of this development is that things 
that to us appear alike may not be alike in any objective sense, i.e., 
may have no other properties in common. Once we have to recog- 
nize, however, that things differ in their effects on our senses not 
necessarily in the same way in which they differ in their behavior to- 
wards each other, we are no longer entitled to take it for granted that 
what to us appears alike or different will also appear so to others. 
That this is so as a rule is an important empirical fact which, on the 
one hand, demands explanation (a task for psychology) and which, 


on the other hand, must be accepted as a basic datum in our study 
of people's conduct. That different objects mean the same thing to 
different people, or that different people mean the same thing by dif- 
ferent acts, remain important facts though physical science may show 
that these objects or acts possess no other common properties. 

It is true, of course, that we know nothing about other people's 
minds except through sense perceptions, i.e., the observation of 
physical facts. But this does not mean that we know nothing but 
physical facts. Of what kind the facts are with which we have to deal 
in any discipline is not determined by all the properties possessed by 
the concrete objects to which the discipline applies, but only by those 
properties by which we classify them for the purposes of the disci- 
pline in question. To take an example from the physical sciences: all 
levers or pendulums of which we can conceive have chemical and 
optical properties; but when we talk about levers or pendulums we 
do not talk about chemical or optical facts. What makes a number of 
individual phenomena facts of one kind are the attributes which we 
select in order to treat them as members of one class. And though all 
social phenomena with which we can possibly be concerned will pos- 
sess physical attributes, this does not mean that they must be physical 
facts for our purpose. 

The significant point about the objects of human activity with 
which we are concerned in the social sciences, and about these 
human activities themselves, is that in interpreting human activities 
we spontaneously and unconsciously class together as instances of 
the same object or the same act any one of a large number of physi- 
cal facts which may have no physical property in common. We know 
that other people like ourselves regard any one of a large number of 
physically different things, a, b f c, d, . . . etc., as belonging to the 
same class; and we know this because other people, like ourselves, 
react to any one of these things by any one of the movements a, (3, 
y, 8, . . . which again may have no physical property in common. Yet 
this knowledge on which we constantly act, which must necessarily 
precede, and is pre-supposed by, any communication with other men, 
is not conscious knowledge in the sense that we are in a position ex- 
haustively to enumerate all the different physical phenomena which 
we unhesitatingly recognize as members of the class: we do not 


know which of many possible combinations of physical properties 
we shall recognize as a certain word, or as a "friendly face" or a 
"threatening gesture." Probably in no single instance has experi- 
mental research yet succeeded in precisely determining the range of 
different phenomena which we unhesitatingly treat as meaning the 
same thing to us as well as to other people; yet we constantly and 
successfully act on the assumption that we do classify these things in 
the same manner as other people do. We are not in a position and 
may never be in the position to substitute objects defined in physical 
terms for the mental categories we employ in talking about other 
people's actions. 39 Whenever we do so the physical facts to which we 
refer are significant not as physical facts, i.e., not as members of a 
class all of which have certain physical properties in common, but as 
members of a class of what may be physically completely different 
things but which "mean" the same thing to us. 

It becomes necessary here to state explicitly a consideration which 
is implied in the whole of our argument on this point and which, 
though it seems to follow from the modern conception of the char- 
acter of physical research, is yet still somewhat unfamiliar. It is that 
not only those mental entities, such as "concepts" or "ideas," which 
are commonly recognized as "abstractions," but all mental phe- 
nomena, sense perceptions and images as well as the more abstract 
"concepts" and "ideas," must be regarded as acts of classification per- 
formed by the brain. 40 This is, of course, merely another way of say- 
ing that the qualities which we perceive are not properties of the ob- 
jects but ways in which we (individually or as a race) have learnt to 
group or classify external stimuli. To perceive is to assign to a fa- 
miliar category (or categories): we could not perceive anything 
completely different from everything else we have ever perceived be- 
fore. This does not mean, however, that everything which we actually 
class together must possess common properties additional to the fact 
that we react in the same way to these things. It is a common but 
dangerous error to believe that things which our senses or our mind 
treat as members of the same class must have something else in com- 
mon beyond being registered in the same manner by our mind. Al- 
though there will usually exist some objective justification why we 
regard certain things as similar, this need not always be the case. But 


while in our study of nature classifications which are not based on 
any similarity in the behavior of the objects towards each other must 
be treated as "deceptions" of which we must free ourselves, they are 
of positive significance in our attempts to understand human action. 
The important difference between the position of these mental cate- 
gories in the two spheres is that when we study the working of ex- 
ternal nature our sensations and thoughts are not links in the chain 
of observed events they are merely about them; but in the mecha- 
nism of society they form an essential link, the forces here at work 
operate through these mental entities which are directly known to us: 
while the things in the external world do not behave alike or differ- 
ently because they appear alike to us, we do behave in a similar or 
different manner because the things appear alike or different to us. 

The behaviorist or physicalist who in studying human behavior 
wished really to avoid using the categories which we find ready in 
our mind, and who wanted to confine himself strictly to the study of 
man's reactions to objects defined in physical terms, would consist- 
ently have to refuse to say anything about human actions till he had 
experimentally established how our senses and our mind group ex- 
ternal stimuli as alike or unlike. He would have to begin by asking 
which physical objects appear alike to us and which do not (and how 
it comes about that they do) before he could seriously undertake to 
study human behavior towards these things. 

It is important to observe that our contention is not that such an 
attempt to explain the principle of how our mind or our brain trans- 
forms physical facts into mental entities is impossible. Once we rec- 
ognize this as a process of classification there is no reason why we 
should not learn to understand the principle on which it operates. 
Classification is, after all, a mechanical process, i.e., a process which 
could be performed by a machine which "sorts out" and groups ob- 
jects according to certain properties. 41 Our argument is, rather, in 
the first instance, that for the task of the social sciences such an ex- 
planation of the formation of mental entities and their relations to 
the physical facts which they represent is unnecessary, and that such 
an explanation would help us in no way in our task; and, secondly, 
that such an explanation, although conceivable, is not only not 
available at present and not likely to be available for a long time yet, 


but also unlikely to be ever more than an "explanation of the prin- 
ciple" 42 on which this apparatus of classification works. It would 
seem that any apparatus of classification would always have to pos- 
sess a degree of complexity greater than any one of the different 
things which it classifies; and if this is correct it would follow that it 
is impossible that our brain should ever be able to produce a com- 
plete explanation (as distinguished from a mere explanation of the 
principle) of the particular ways in which it itself classifies external 
stimuli. We shall later have to consider the significance of the related 
paradox that to "explain" our own knowledge would require that we 
should know more than we actually do, which is, of course, a self- 
contradictory statement. 

But let us assume for the moment that we had succeeded in fully 
reducing all mental phenomena to physical processes. Assume that 
we knew the mechanism by which our central nervous system groups 
any one of the (elementary or complex) stimuli, a, b, c, . . . or /, 
m, n, . . . or r, s, t, . . . into definite classes determined by the fact 
that to any member of one class we shall react by any one of the 
members of the corresponding classes or reactions a, (3, y> or v 
|, o, . . . or cp, x> ty This assumption implies both that this system 
is not merely familiar to us as the way in which our own mind acts, 
but that we explicitly know all the relations by which it is deter- 
mined, and that we also know the mechanism by which the classifica- 
tion is actually effected. We should then be able strictly to correlate 
the mental entities with definite groups of physical facts. We should 
thus have "unified" science, but we should be in no better position 
with respect to the specific task of the social sciences than we are 
now. We should still have to use the old categories, though we should 
be able to explain their formation and though we should know the 
physical facts "behind" them. Although we should know that a dif- 
ferent arrangement of the facts of nature is more appropriate for 
explaining external events, in interpreting human actions we should 
still have to use the classification in which these facts actually appear 
in the minds of the acting people. Thus, quite apart from the fact 
that we should probably have to wait forever till we were able to 
substitute physical facts for the mental entities, even if this were 


achieved we should be no better equipped for the task we have to 
solve in the social sciences. 

The idea, implied in Comte's hierarchy of the sciences 43 and in 
many similar arguments, that the social sciences must in some sense 
be "based" on the physical sciences, that they can only hope for 
success after the physical sciences have advanced far enough to en- 
able us to treat social phenomena in physical terms, in "physical lan- 
guage," is, therefore, entirely erroneous. The problem of explaining 
mental processes by physical ones is entirely distinct from the prob- 
lems of the social sciences, it is a problem for physiological psychol- 
ogy. But whether it is solved or not, for the social sciences the given 
mental entities must provide the starting point, whether their forma- 
tion has been explained or not. 

We cannot discuss here all the other forms in which the character- 
istic "objectivism" of the scientistic approach has made itself felt and 
led to error in the social sciences. We shall, in the course of our 
historical survey, find this tendency to look for the "real" attributes 
of the objects of human activity which lie behind men's views about 
them, represented in a great many different ways. Only a brief sur- 
vey can be attempted here. 

Nearly as important as the various forms of behaviorism, and 
closely connected with them, is the common tendency in the study 
of social phenomena to attempt to disregard all the "merely" qualita- 
tive phenomena and to concentrate, on the model of the natural 
sciences, on the quantitative aspects, on what is measurable. We have 
seen before 44 how in the natural sciences this tendency is a necessary 
consequence of their specific task of replacing the picture of the 
world in terms of sense qualities by one in which the units are de- 
fined exclusively by their explicit relations. The success of this 
method in that field has brought it about that it is now generally re- 
garded as the hall-mark of all genuinely scientific procedure. Yet its 
raison d'etre, the need to replace the classification of events which 
our senses and our mind provide by a more appropriate one, is ab- 
sent where we try to understand human beings, and where this un- 
derstanding is made possible by the fact that we have a mind like 
theirs, and that from the mental categories we have in common with 
them we can reconstruct the social complexes which are our con- 


cern. The blind transfer of the striving for quantitative measure- 
ments 46 to a field in which the specific conditions are not present 
which give it its basic importance in the natural sciences, is the result 
of an entirely unfounded prejudice. It is probably responsible for 
the worst aberrations and absurdities produced by scientism in the 
social sciences. It not only leads frequently to the selection for study 
of the most irrelevant aspects of the phenomena because they hap- 
pen to be measurable, but also to "measurements" and assignments 
of numerical values which are absolutely meaningless. What a dis- 
tinguished philosopher recently wrote about psychology is at least 
equally true of the social sciences, namely that it is only too easy 
"to rush off to measure something without considering what it is we 
are measuring, or what measurement means. In this respect some 
recent measurements are of the same logical type as Plato's deter- 
mination that a just ruler is 729 times as happy as an unjust one." 4e 

Closely connected with the tendency to treat the objects of human 
activity in terms of their "real" attributes instead of as what they 
appear to the acting people is the propensity to conceive of the stu- 
dent of society as endowed with a kind of super-mind, with some sort 
of absolute knowledge, which makes it unnecessary for him to start 
from what is known by the people whose actions he studies. Among 
the most characteristic manifestations of this tendency are the various 
forms of social "energetics" which, from the earlier attempts of Er- 
nest Solvay, Wilhelm Ostwald and F. Soddy down to our own day * 7 
have constantly reappeared among scientists and engineers when 
they turned to the problems of social organization. The idea under- 
lying these theories is that, as science is supposed to teach that every- 
thing can be ultimately reduced to quantities of energy, man should 
in his plans treat the various things not according to the concrete 
usefulness they possess for the purposes for which he knows how to 
use them, but as the interchangeable units of abstract energy which 
they "really" are. 

Another, hardly less crude and even more widespread, example 
of this tendency is the conception of the "objective" possibilities of 
production, of the quantity of social output which the physical facts 
are supposed to make possible, an idea which frequently finds ex- 
pression in quantitative estimates of the supposed "productive ca- 


pacity" of society as a whole. These estimates regularly refer, not to 
what men can produce by means of any stated organization, but to 
what in some undefined "objective" sense "could" be produced from 
the available resources. Most of these assertions have no ascertain- 
able meaning whatever. They do not mean that x or y or any par- 
ticular organization of people could achieve these things. What they 
amount to is that if all the knowledge dispersed among many people 
could be mastered by a single mind, and // this master-mind could 
make all the people act at all times as he wished, certain results 
could be achieved; but these results could, of course, not be known 
to anybody except to such a master-mind. It need hardly be pointed 
out that an assertion about a "possibility" which is dependent on 
such conditions has no relation to reality. There is no such thing as 
the productive capacity of society in the abstract apart from partic- 
ular forms of organization. The only fact which we can regard as 
given is that there are particular people who have certain concrete 
knowledge about the way in which particular things can be used for 
particular purposes. This knowledge never exists as an integrated 
whole or in one mind, and the only knowledge that can in any sense 
be said to exist are these separate and often inconsistent and even 
conflicting views of different people. 

Of very similar nature are the frequent statements about the "ob- 
jective" needs of the people, where "objective" is merely a name for 
somebody's views about what the people ought to want. We shall 
have to consider further manifestations of this "objectivism" towards 
the end of this part when we turn from the consideration of scien- 
tism proper to the effects of the characteristic outlook of the engi- 
neer, whose conceptions of "efficiency" have been one of the most 
powerful forces through which this attitude has affected current 
views on social problems. 




CLOSELY CONNECTED WITH the "objectivism" of the scientistic ap- 
proach is its methodological collectivism, its tendency to treat "wholes" 
like "society" or the "economy," "capitalism" (as a given historical 
"phase") or a particular "industry" or "class" or "country" as defi- 
nitely given objects about which we can discover laws by observing 
their behavior as wholes. While the specific subjectivist approach 
of the social sciences starts, as we have seen, from our knowledge of 
the inside of these social complexes, the knowledge of the individual 
attitudes which form the elements of their structure, the objectivism 
of the natural sciences tries to view them from the outside 48 ; it treats 
social phenomena not as something of which the human mind is a 
part and the principles of whose organization we can reconstruct 
from the familiar parts, but as if they were objects directly perceived 
by us as wholes. 

There are several reasons why this tendency should so frequently 
show itself with natural scientists. They are used to seek first for 
empirical regularities in the relatively complex phenomena that are 
immediately given to observation, and only after they have found 
such regularities to try and explain them as the product of a com- 
bination of other, often purely hypothetical, elements (constructs) 
which are assumed to behave according to simpler and more general 
rules. They are therefore inclined to seek in the social field, too, first 
for empirical regularities in the behavior of the complexes before 
they feel that there is need for a theoretical explanation. This tend- 
ency is further strengthened by the experience that there are few 
regularities in the behavior of individuals which can be established 



in a strictly objective manner; and they turn therefore to the wholes 
in the hope that they will show such regularities. Finally, there is the 
rather vague idea that since "social phenomena" are to be the object 
of study, the obvious procedure is to start from the direct observation 
of these "social phenomena," where the existence in popular usage of 
such terms as "society" or "economy" is naively taken as evidence 
that there must be definite "objects" corresponding to them. The 
fact that people all talk about "the nation" or "capitalism" leads to 
the belief that the first step in the study of these phenomena must be 
to go and see what they are like, just as we should if we heard about 
a particular stone or a particular animal. 49 

The error involved in this collectivist approach is that it mistakes 
for facts what are no more than provisional theories, models con- 
structed by the popular mind to explain the connection between some 
of the individual phenomena which we observe. The paradoxical 
aspect of it, however, is, as we have seen before, 50 that those who 
by the scientistic prejudice are led to approach social phenomena in 
this manner are induced, by their very anxiety to avoid all merely 
subjective elements and to confine themselves to "objective facts," 
to commit the mistake they are most anxious to avoid, namely that 
of treating as facts what are no more than vague popular theories. 
They thus become, when they least suspect it, the victims of the 
fallacy of "conceptual realism" (made familiar by A. N. Whitehead 
as the "fallacy of misplaced concreteness"). 

The naive realism which uncritically assumes that where there are 
commonly used concepts there must also be definite "given" things 
which they describe is so deeply embedded in current thought about 
social phenomena that it requires a deliberate effort of will to free 
oneselves from it. While most people will readily admit that in this 
field there may exist special difficulties in recognizing definite wholes 
because we have never many specimens of a kind before us and 
therefore cannot readily distinguish their constant from their merely 
accidental attributes, few are aware that there is a much more fun- 
damental obstacle: that the wholes as such are never given to our 
observation but are without exception constructions of our mind. 
They are not "given facts," objective data of a similar kind which we 
spontaneously recognize as similar by their common physical attri- 


butes. They cannot be perceived at all apart from a mental scheme 
that shows the connection between some of the many individual facts 
which we can observe. Where we have to deal with such social 
wholes we cannot (as we do in the natural sciences) start from the 
observation of a number of instances which we recognize spontane- 
ously by their common sense attributes as instances of "societies" or 
"economies," "capitalisms" or "nations," "languages" or "legal sys- 
tems," and where only after we have collected a sufficient number of 
instances we begin to seek for common laws which they obey. Social 
wholes are not given to us as what we may call "natural units" which 
we recognize as similar with our senses, as we do with flowers or 
butterflies, minerals or light-rays, or even forests or ant-heaps. They 
are not given to us as similar things before we even begin to ask 
whether what looks alike to us also behaves in the same manner. 
The terms for collectives which we all readily use do not designate 
definite things in the sense of stable collections of sense attributes 
which we recognize as alike by inspection; they refer to certain struc- 
tures of relationships between some of the many things which we 
can observe within given spatial and temporal limits and which we 
select because we think that we can discern connections between 
them connections which may or may not exist in fact. 

What we group together as instances of the same collective or 
whole are different complexes of individual events, by themselves 
perhaps quite dissimilar, but believed by us to be related to each 
other in a similar manner; they are selections of certain elements of 
a complex picture on the basis of a theory about their coherence. 
They do not stand for definite things or classes of things (if we un- 
derstand the term "thing" in any material or concrete sense) but 
for a pattern or order in which different things may be related to 
each other an order which is not a spatial or temporal order but 
can be defined only in terms of relations which are intelligible human 
attitudes. This order or pattern is as little perceptible as a physical 
fact as these relations themselves; and it can be studied only by fol- 
lowing up the implications of the particular combination of relation- 
ships. In other words, the wholes about which we speak exist only 
if, and to the extent to which, the theory is correct which we have 
formed about the connection of the parts which they imply, and 


which we can explicitly state only in the form of a model built from 
those relationships. 51 

The social sciences, thus, do not deal with "given" wholes but 
their task is to constitute these wholes by constructing models from 
the familiar elements models which reproduce the structure of re- 
lationships between some of the many phenomena which we always 
simultaneously observe in real life. This is no less true of the popular 
concepts of social wholes which are represented by the terms current 
in ordinary language; they too refer to mental models, but instead of 
a precise description they convey merely vague and indistinct sug- 
gestions of the way in which certain phenomena are connected. 
Sometimes the wholes constituted by the theoretical social sciences 
will roughly correspond with the wholes to which the popular con- 
cepts refer, because popular usage has succeeded in approximately 
separating the significant from the accidental; sometimes the wholes 
constituted by theory may refer to entirely new structural connec- 
tions of which we did not know before systematic study commenced 
and for which ordinary language has not even a name. If we take 
current concepts like those of a "market" or of "capital," the popu- 
lar meaning of these words corresponds at least in some measure to 
the similar concepts which we have to form for theoretical purposes, 
although even in these instances the popular meaning is far too vague 
to allow the use of these terms without first giving them a more pre- 
cise meaning. If they can be retained in theoretical work at all it is, 
however, because in these instances even the popular concepts have 
long ceased to describe particular concrete things, definable in phys- 
ical terms, and have come to cover a great variety of different things 
which are classed together solely because of a recognized similarity 
in the structure of the relationships between men and things. A 
"market," e.g., has long ceased to mean only the periodical meeting 
of men at a fixed place to which they bring their products to sell 
them from temporary wooden stalls. It now covers any arrangements 
for regular contacts between potential buyers and sellers of any thing 
that can be sold, whether by personal contact, by telephone or tele- 
graph, by advertising, etc., etc. 52 

When, however, we speak of the behavior of, e.g., the "price sys- 
tem" as a whole and discuss the complex of connected changes which 


will correspond in certain conditions to a fall in the rate of interest, 
we are not concerned with a whole that obtrudes itself on popular 
notice or that is ever definitely given; we can only reconstruct it by 
following up the reactions of many individuals to the initial change 
and its immediate effects. That in this case certain changes "belong 
together" that among the large number of other changes which in 
any concrete situation will always occur simultaneously with them 
and which will often swamp those which form part of the complex 
in which we are interested, a few form a more closely interrelated 
complex we do not know from observing that these particular 
changes regularly occur together. That would indeed be impossible 
because what in different circumstances would have to be regarded 
as the same set of changes could not be determined by any of the 
physical attributes of the things but only by singling out certain 
relevant aspects in the attitudes of men towards the things; and this 
can be done only by the help of the models we have formed. 

The mistake of treating as definite objects "wholes" that are no 
more than constructions, and that can have no properties except 
those which follow from the way in which we have constructed them 
from the elements, has probably appeared most frequently in the 
form of the various theories about a "social" or "collective" mind es 
and has in this connection raised all sorts of pseudo-problems. The 
same idea is frequently but imperfectly concealed under the attri- 
butes of "personality" or "individuality" which are ascribed to society. 
Whatever the name, these terms always mean that, instead of re- 
constructing the wholes from the relations between individual minds 
which we directly know, a vaguely apprehended whole is treated as 
something akin to the individual mind. It is in this form that in the 
social sciences an illegitimate use of anthropomorphic concepts has 
had as harmful an effect as the use of such concepts in the natural 
sciences. The remarkable thing here is, again, that it should so fre- 
quently be the empiricism of the positivists, the arch-enemies of any 
anthropomorphic concepts even where they are in place, which leads 
them to postulate such metaphysical entities and to treat humanity, 
as for instance Comte does, as one "social being," a kind of super- 
person. But as there is no other possibility than either to compose 
the whole from the individual minds or to postulate a super-mind in 


the image of the individual mind, and as positivists reject the first 
of these alternatives, they are necessarily driven to the second. We 
have here the root of that curious alliance between 19th century 
positivism and Hegelianism which will occupy us in a later study. 

The collectivist approach to social phenomena has not often been 
so emphatically proclaimed as when the founder of sociology, Au- 
guste Comte, asserted with respect to them that, as in biology, "the 
whole of the object is here certainly much better known and more 
immedately accessible" 54 than the constituent parts. This view has 
exercised a lasting influence on that scientistic study of society which 
he attempted to create. Yet the particular similarity between the ob- 
jects of biology and those of sociology, which fitted so well in 
Comte's hierarchy of the sciences, does not in fact exist. In biology 
we do indeed first recognize as things of one kind natural units, 
stable combinations of sense properties, of which we find many in- 
stances which we spontaneously recognize as alike. We can, there- 
fore, begin by asking why these definite sets of attributes regularly 
occur together. But where we have to deal with social wholes or 
structures it is not the observation of the regular coexistence of cer- 
tain physical facts which teaches us that they belong together or form 
a whole. We do not first observe that the parts always occur together 
and afterwards ask what holds them together; but it is only because 
we know the ties that hold them together that we can select a few 
elements from the immensely complicated world around us as parts 
of a connected whole. 

We shall presently see that Comte and many others regard social 
phenomena as given wholes in yet another, different, sense, contend- 
ing that concrete social phenomena can be understood only by con- 
sidering the totality of everything that can be found within certain 
spatio-temporal boundaries, and that any attempt to select parts or 
aspects as systematically connected is bound to fail. In this form the 
argument amounts to a denial of the possibility of a theory of social 
phenomena as developed, e.g., by economics, and leads directly to 
what has been misnamed the "historical method" with which, indeed, 
methodological collectivism is closely connected. We shall have to 
discuss this view below under the heading of "historicism." 


The endeavor to grasp social phenomena as "wholes" finds its 
most characteristic expression in the desire to gain a distant and 
comprehensive view in the hope that thus regularities will reveal 
themselves which remain obscure at closer range. Whether it is the 
conception of an observer from a distant planet, which has always 
been a favorite with positivists from Condorcet to Mach, 55 or 
whether it is the survey of long stretches of time through which it is 
hoped that constant configurations or regularities will reveal them- 
selves, it is always the same endeavor to get away from our inside 
knowledge of human affairs and to gain a view of the kind which, it is 
supposed, would be commanded by somebody who was not himself 
a man but stood to men in the same relation as that in which we 
stand to the external world. 

This distant and comprehensive view of human events at which the 
scientistic approach aims is now often described as the "macroscopic 
view." It would probably be better called the telescopic view (mean- 
ing simply the distant view unless it be the view through the inverted 
telescope!) since its aim is deliberately to ignore what we can see 
only from the inside. In the "macrocosm" which this approach 
attempts to see, and in the "macrodynamic" theories which it en- 
deavors to produce, the elements would not be individual human 
beings but collectives, constant configurations which, it is presumed, 
could be defined and described in strictly objective terms. 

In most instances this belief that the total view will enable us to 
distinguish wholes by objective criteria, however, proves to be just 
an illusion. This becomes evident as soon as we seriously try to im- 
agine of what the macrocosm would consist if we were really to dis- 
pense with our knowledge of what things mean to the acting men, 
and if we merely observed the actions of men as we observe an ant- 
heap or a bee-hive. In the picture such a study could produce there 
could not appear such things as means or tools, commodities or 
money, crimes or punishments, or words or sentences; it could con- 
tain only physical objects defined either in terms of the sense attri- 
butes they present to the observer or even in purely relational terms. 
And since the human behavior towards the physical objects would 
show practically no regularities discernible to such an observer, since 
men would in a great many instances not appear to react alike to 


things which would to the observer seem to be the same, nor dif- 
ferently to what appeared to him to be different, he could not hope 
to achieve an explanation of their actions unless he had first succeeded 
in reconstructing in full detail the way in which men's senses and 
men's minds pictured the external world to them. The famous 
observer from Mars, in other words, before he could understand 
even as much of human affairs as the ordinary man does, would 
have to reconstruct from our behavior those immediate data of our 
mind which to us form the starting-point of any interpretation of 
human action. 

If we are not more aware of the difficulties which would be 
encountered by an observer not possessed of a human mind, this is so 
because we never seriously imagine the possibility that any being 
with which we are familiar might command sense perceptions or 
knowledge denied to us. Rightly or wrongly we tend to assume that 
the other minds which we encounter can differ from ours only by 
being inferior, so that everything which they perceive or know can 
also be perceived or be known to us. The only way in which we can 
form an approximate idea of what our position would be if we had 
to deal with an organism as complicated as ours but organized on a 
different principle, so that we should not be able to reproduce its 
working on the analogy of our own mind, is to conceive that we had 
to study the behavior of people with a knowledge vastly superior to 
our own. If, e.g., we had developed our modern scientific technique 
while still confined to a part of our planet, and then had made 
contact with other parts inhabited by a race which had advanced 
knowledge much further, we clearly could not hope to understand 
many of their actions by merely observing what they did and with- 
out directly learning from them their knowledge. It would not be 
from observing them in action that we should acquire their knowl- 
edge, but it would be through being taught their knowledge that we 
should learn to understand their actions. 

There is yet another argument which we must briefly consider 
which supports the tendency to look at social phenomena "from the 
outside," and which is easily confused with the methodological col- 
lectivism of which we have spoken though it is really distinct from 
it. Are not social phenomena, it may be asked, from their definition 


mass phenomena, and is it not obvious, therefore, that we can hope 
to discover regularities in them only if we investigate them by the 
method developed for the study of mass phenomena, i.e., statistics? 
Now this is certainly true of the study of certain phenomena, such 
as those which form the object of vital statistics and which, as has 
been mentioned before, are sometimes also described as social pheno- 
mena, although they are essentially distinct from those with which we 
are here concerned. 

Nothing is more instructive than to compare the nature of these 
statistical wholes, to which the same word "collective" is sometimes 
also applied, with that of the wholes or collectives with which we 
have to deal in the theoretical social sciences. The statistical study 
is concerned with the attributes of individuals, though not with 
attributes of particular individuals, but with attributes of which we 
know only that they are possessed by a certain quantitatively deter- 
mined proportion of all the individuals in our "collective" or "popula- 
tion." In order that any collection of individuals should form a true 
statistical collective it is even necessary that the attributes of the 
individuals whose frequency distribution we study should not be 
systematically connected or, at least, that in our selection of the 
individuals which form the "collective" we are not guided by any 
knowledge of such a connection. The "collectives" of statistics, on 
which we study the regularities produced by the "law of large 
numbers," are thus emphatically not wholes in the sense in which 
we describe social structures as wholes. This is best seen from the 
fact that the properties of the "collectives" with statistics studies must 
remain unaffected if from the total of elements we select at random 
a certain part. Far from dealing with structures of relationships, 
statistics deliberately and systematically disregard the relationships 
between the individual elements. It is, to repeat, concerned with 
the properties of the elements of the "collective," though not with 
the properties of particular elements, but with the frequency with 
which elements with certain properties occur among the total. And, 
what is more, it assumes that these properties are not systematically 
connected with the different ways in which the elements are related 
to each other. 

The consequence of this is that in the statistical study of social 


phenomena the structures with which the theoretical social sciences 
are concerned actually disappear. Statistics may supply us with 
very interesting and important information about what is the raw 
material from which we have to reproduce these structures, but it 
can tell us nothing about these structures themselves. In some field 
this is immediately obvious as soon as it is stated. That the statistics 
of words can tell us nothing about the structure of a language will 
hardly be denied. But although the contrary is sometimes suggested, 
the same holds no less true of other systematically connected wholes 
such as, e.g., the price system. No statistical information about the 
elements can explain to us the properties of the connected wholes. 
Statistics could produce knowledge of the properties of the wholes 
only if it had information about statistical collectives the elements 
of which were wholes, i.e., if we had statistical information about 
the properties of many languages, many price systems, etc. But, quite 
apart from the practical limitations imposed on us by the limited 
number of instances which are known to us, there is an even more 
serious obstacle to the statistical study of these wholes: the fact which 
we have already discussed, that these wholes and their properties are 
not given to our observation but can only be formed or composed 
by us from their parts. 

What we have said applies, however, by no means to all that goes 
by the name of statistics in the social sciences. Much that is thus 
described is not statistics in the strict modern sense of the term; it 
does not deal with mass phenomena at all, but is called statistics only 
in the older, wider sense of the word in which it is used for any 
descriptive information about the State or society. Though the term 
will to-day be used only where the descriptive data are of quanti- 
tative nature, this should not lead us to confuse it with the science of 
statistics in the narrower sense. Most of the economic statistics which 
we ordinarily meet, such as trade statistics, figures about price 
changes, and most "time series," or statistics of the "national income," 
are not data to which the technique appropriate to the investigation 
of mass phenomena can be applied. They are just "measurements" 
and frequently measurements of the type already discussed at the end 
of Section V above. If they refer to significant phenomena they may 
be very interesting as information about the conditions existing at 


a particular moment. But unlike statistics proper, which may indeed 
help us to discover important regularities in the social world (though 
regularities of an entirely different order from those with which the 
theoretical sciences of society deal), there is no reason to expect 
that these measurements will ever reveal anything to us which is of 
significance beyond the particular place and time at which they have 
been made. That they cannot produce generalizations does, of course, 
not mean that they may not be useful, even very useful; they will 
often provide us with the data to which our theoretical generalizations 
must be applied to be of any practical use. They are an instance of 
the historical information about a particular situation the significance 
of which we must further consider in the next sections. 



To SEE THE "historicism" to which we must now turn described as a 
product of the scientistic approach may cause surprise since it is 
usually represented as the opposite to the treatment of social pheno- 
mena on the model of the natural sciences. But the view for which 
this term is properly used (and which must not be confused with the 
true method of historical study) proves on closer consideration to be 
a result of the same prejudices as the other typical scientistic miscon- 
ceptions of social phenomena. If the suggestion that historicism is a 
form rather than the opposite of scientism has still somewhat the 
appearance of a paradox, this is so because the term is used in two 
different and in some respect opposite and yet frequently confused 
senses: for the older view which justly contrasted the specific task 
of the historian with that of the scientist and which denied the possi- 
bility of a theoretical science of history, and for the later view which, 
on the contrary, affirms that history is the only road which can lead 
to a theoretical science of social phenomena. However great is the 
contrast between these two views sometimes called "historicism" 
if we take them in their extreme forms, they have yet enough in 
common to have made possible a gradual and almost unperceived 
transition from the historical method of the historian to the scientistic 
historicism which attempts to make history a "science" and the only 
science of social phenomena. 

The older historical school, whose growth has recently been so well 
described by the German historian Meinecke, though under the mis- 
leading name of Historismus arose mainly in opposition to certain 
generalizing and "pragmatic" tendencies of some, particularly French, 
18th century views. Its emphasis was on the singular or unique 


(individuell) character of all historical phenomena which could be 
understood only genetically as the joint result of many forces working 
through long stretches of time. Its strong opposition to the "prag- 
matic" interpretation, which regards social institutions as the product 
of conscious design, implies in fact the use of a "compositive" theory 
which explains how such institutions can arise as the unintended 
result of the separate actions of many individuals. It is significant 
that among the fathers of this view Edmund Burke is one of the 
most important and Adam Smith occupies an honorable place. 

Yet, although this historical method implies theory, i.e., an under- 
standing of the principles of structural coherence of the social wholes, 
the historians who employed it not only did not systematically de- 
velop such theories and were hardly aware that they used them; but 
their just dislike of any generalization about historical developments 
also tended to give their teaching an anti-theoretical bias which, al- 
though originally aimed only against the wrong kind of theory, yet 
created the impression that the main difference between the methods 
appropriate to the study of natural and to that of social phenomena 
was the same as that between theory and history. This opposition 
to theory of the largest body of students of social phenomena made 
it appear as if the difference between the theoretical and the histori- 
cal treatment was a necessary consequence of the differences between 
the objects of the natural and the social sciences; and the belief that 
the search for general rules must be confined to the study of natural 
phenomena, while in the study of the social world the historical 
method must rule, became the foundation on which later historicism 
grew up. But while historicism retained the claim for the pre-emi- 
nence of historical research in this field, it almost reversed the atti- 
tude to history of the older historical school, and under the influence 
of the scientistic currents of the age came to represent history as the 
empirical study of society from which ultimately generalization would 
emerge. History was to be the source from which a new science 
of society would spring, a science which should at the same time be 
historical and yet produce what theoretical knowledge we could hope 
to gain about society. 

We are here not concerned with the actual steps in that process of 
transition from the older historical school to the historicism of the 


younger. It may just be noticed that historicism in the sense in which 
the term is used here, was created not by historians but by students 
of the specialized social sciences, particularly economists, who hoped 
thereby to gain an empirical road to the theory of their subject. But 
to trace this development in detail and to show how the men respon- 
sible for it were actually guided by the scientistic views of their 
generation must be left to the later historical account. 57 

The first point we must briefly consider is the nature of the dis- 
tinction between the historical and the theoretical treatment of any 
subject which in fact makes it a contradiction in terms to demand 
that history should become a theoretical science or that theory should 
ever be "historical." If we understand that distinction, it will become 
clear that it has no necessary connection with the difference of the 
concrete objects with which the two methods of approach deal, and 
that for the understanding of any concrete phenomenon, be it in 
nature or in society, both kinds of knowledge are equally required. 

That human history deals with events or situations which are 
unique or singular when we consider all aspects which are relevant 
for the answer of a particular question which we may ask about 
them, is, of course, not peculiar to human history. It is equally true 
of any attempt to explain a concrete phenomenon if we only take 
into account a sufficient number of aspects or, to put it differently, 
so long as we do not deliberately select only such aspects of reality 
as fall within the sphere of any one of the systems of connected prop- 
ositions which we regard as distinct theoretical sciences. If I watch 
and record the process by which a plot in my garden that I leave 
untouched for months is gradually covered with weeds, I am describ- 
ing a process which in all its detail is no less unique than any event 
in human history. If I want to explain any particular configuration 
of different plants which may appear at any stage of that process, I 
can do so only by giving an account of all the relevant influences 
which have affected different parts of my plot at different times. I 
shall have to consider what I can find out about the differences of the 
soil in different parts of the plot, about differences in the radiation of 
the sun, of moisture, of the air-currents, etc., etc.; and in order to 
explain the effects of all these factors I shall have to use, apart from 
the knowledge of all these particular facts, various parts of the theory 


of physics, of chemistry, biology, meteorology, and so on. The result 
of all this will be the explanation of a particular phenomenon, but 
not a theoretical science of how garden plots are covered with weeds. 

In an instance like this the particular sequence of events, their 
causes and consequences, will probably not be of sufficient general 
interest to make it worth while to produce a written account of them 
or to develop their study into a distinct discipline. But there are large 
fields of natural knowledge, represented by recognized disciplines, 
which in their methodological character are no different from this. 
In geography, e.g., and at least in a large part of geology and as- 
tronomy, we are mainly concerned with particular situations, either 
of the earth or of the universe; we aim at explaining a unique situ- 
ation by showing how it has been produced by the operation of many 
forces subject to the general laws studied by the theoretical sciences. 
In the specific sense of a body of general rules in which the term 
"science" is often used 58 these disciplines are not "sciences," i.e., 
they are not theoretical sciences but endeavors to apply the laws 
found by the theoretical sciences to the explanation of particular 
"historical" situations. 

The distinction between the search for generic principles and the 
explanation of concrete phenomena has thus no necessary connection 
with the distinction between the study of nature and the study of so- 
ciety. In both fields we need generalizations in order to explain con- 
crete and unique events. Whenever we attempt to explain or under- 
stand a particular phenomenon we can do so only by recognizing it 
or its parts as members of certain classes of phenomena, and the ex- 
planation of the particular phenomenon presupposes the existence of 
general rules. 

There are very good reasons, however, for a marked difference in 
emphasis, reasons why, generally speaking, in the natural sciences 
the search for general laws has the pride of place, with their appli- 
cation to particular events usually little discussed and of small 
general interest, while with social phenomena the explanation of the 
particular and unique situation is as important and often of much 
greater interest than any generalization. In most natural sciences the 
particular situation or event is generally one of a very large number 
of similar events, which as particular events are only of local and 


temporary interest and scarcely worth public discussion (except as 
evidence of the truth of the general rule). The important thing for 
them is the general law applicable to all the recurrent events of a par- 
ticular kind. In the social field, on the other hand, a particular or 
unique event is often of such general interest and at the same time so 
complex and so difficult to see in all its important aspects, that its 
explanation and discussion constitute a major task requiring the 
whole energy of a specialist. We study here particular events because 
they have contributed to create the particular environment in which 
we live or because they are part of that environment. The creation 
and dissolution of the Roman Empire or the Crusades, the French 
Revolution or the Growth of Modern Industry are such unique com- 
plexes of events, which have helped to produce the particular cir- 
cumstances in which we live and whose explanation is therefore of 
great interest. 

It is necessary, however, to consider briefly the logical nature of 
these singular or unique objects of study. Probably the majority of 
the numerous disputes and confusions which have arisen in this con- 
nection are due to the vagueness of the common notion of what can 
constitute one object of thought and particularly to the misconcep- 
tion that the totality (i.e., all possible aspects) of a particular situ- 
ation can ever constitute one single object of thought. We can touch 
here only on a very few of the logical problems which this belief 

The first point which we must remember is that, strictly speaking, 
all thought must be to some degree abstract. We have seen before 
that all perception of reality, including the simplest sensations, in- 
volves a classification of the object according to some property or 
properties. The same complex of phenomena which we may be able 
to discover within given temporal and spatial limits may in this sense 
be considered under many different aspects; and the principles ac- 
cording to which we classify or group the events may differ from 
each other not merely in one but in several different ways. The vari- 
ous theoretical sciences deal only with those aspects of the phe- 
nomena which can be fitted into a single body of connected proposi- 
tions. It is necessary to emphasize that this is no less true oif the 
theoretical sciences of nature than of the theoretical sciences of so- 


ciety, since an alleged tendency of the natural sciences to deal with 
the "whole" or the totality of the real things is often quoted by 
writers inclined to historicism as a justification for doing the same in 
the social field. 59 Any discipline of knowledge, whether theoretical or 
historical, however, can deal only with certain selected aspects of the 
real world; and in the theoretical sciences the principle of selection 
is the possibility of subsuming these aspects under a logically con- 
nected body of rules. The same thing may be for one science a pen- 
dulum, for another a lump of brass, and for a third a convex mirror. 
We have already seen that the fact that a pendulum possesses chemi- 
cal and optical properties does not mean that in studying laws of 
pendulums we must study them by the methods of chemistry and 
optics though when we apply these laws to a particular pendulum 
we may well have to take into account certain laws of chemistry or 
optics. Similarly, as has been pointed out, the fact that all social phe- 
nomena have physical properties does not mean that we must study 
them by the methods of the physical sciences. 

The selection of the aspects of a complex of phenomena which can 
be explained by means of a connected body of rules is, however, not 
the only method of selection or abstraction which the scientist will 
have to use. Where investigation is directed, not at establishing rules 
of general applicability, but at answering a particular question raised 
by the events in the world about him, he will have to select those fea- 
tures that are relevant to the particular question. The important point, 
however, is that he still must select a limited number from the infinite 
variety of phenomena which he can find at the given time and place. 
We may, in such cases, sometimes speak as if he considered the 
"whole" situation as he finds it. But what we mean is not the inex- 
haustible totality of everything that can be observed within certain 
spatio-temporal limits, but certain features thought to be relevant to 
the question asked. If I ask why the weeds in my garden have grown 
in this particular pattern no single theoretical science will provide the 
answer. This, however, does not mean that to answer iowe must 
know everything that can be known about the space-time interval in 
which the phenomenon occurred. While the question we ask desig- 
nates the phenomena to be explained, it is only by means of the laws 
of the theoretical sciences that we are able to select the other phe- 


nomena which are relevant for its explanation. The object of scien- 
tific study is never the totality of all the phenomena observable at a 
given time and place, but always only certain selected aspects: and 
according to the question we ask the same spatio-temporal situation 
may contain any number of different objects of study. The human 
mind indeed can never grasp a "whole" in the sense of all the dif- 
ferent aspects of a real situation. 

The application of these considerations to the phenomena of 
human history leads to very important consequences. It means noth- 
ing less than that a historical process or period is never a single defi- 
nite object of thought but becomes such only by the question we ask 
about it; and that, according to the question we ask, what we are ac- 
customed to regard as a single historical event can become any num- 
ber of different objects of thought. 

It is confusion on this point which is mainly responsible for the 
doctrine now so much in vogue that all historical knowledge is neces- 
sarily relative, determined by our "standpoint" and bound to change 
with the lapse of time. 60 This view is a natural consequence of the 
belief that the commonly used names for historical periods or com- 
plexes of events, such as "the Napoleonic Wars," or "France during 
the Revolution," or "the Commonwealth Period," stand for definitely 
given objects, unique individuals 61 which are given to us in the same 
manner as the natural units in which biological specimens or planets 
present themselves. Those names of historical phenomena define 
in fact little more than a period and a place and there is scarcely a 
limit to the number of different questions which we can ask about 
events which occurred during the period and within the region to 
which they refer. It is only the question that we ask, however, which 
will define our object; and there are, of course, many reasons why at 
different times people will ask different questions about the same 
period. 62 But this does not mean that history will at different times 
and on the basis of the same information give different answers to the 
same question. Only this, however, would entitle us to assert that 
historical knowledge is relative. The kernel of truth in the assertion 
about the relativity of historical knowledge is that historians will at 
different times be interested in different objects, but not that they will 
necessarily hold different views about the same object 


We must dwell a little longer on the nature of the "wholes" which 
the historian studies, though much of what we have to say is merely 
an application of what has been said before about the "wholes" 
which some authors regard as objects of theoretical generalizations. 
What we said then is just as true of the wholes which the historian 
studies. They are never given to him as wholes, but always recon- 
structed by him from their elements which alone can be directly per- 
ceived. Whether he speaks about the government that existed or the 
trade that was carried on, the army that moved, or the knowledge 
that was preserved or disseminated, he is never referring to a con- 
stant collection of physical attributes that can be directly observed, 
but always to a system of relationships between some of the observed 
elements which can be merely inferred. Words like "government" or 
"trade" or "army" or "knowledge" do not stand for single observable 
things but for structures of relationships which can be described only 
in terms of a schematic representation or "theory" of the persistent 
system of relationships between the ever-changing elements. 03 These 
"wholes," in other words, do not exist for us apart from the theory 
by which we constitute them, apart from the mental technique by 
which we can reconstruct the connections between the observed ele- 
ments and follow up the implications of this particular combination. 

The place of theory in historical knowledge is thus in forming or 
constituting the wholes to which history refers; it is prior to these 
wholes which do not become visible except by following up the sys- 
tem of relations which connects the parts. The generalizations of 
theory, however, do not refer, and cannot refer, as has been mistak- 
enly believed by the older historians (who for that reason opposed 
theory), to the concrete wholes, the particular constellations of the 
elements, with which history is concerned. The models of "wholes," 
of structural connections, which theory provides ready-made for the 
historian to use (though even these are not the given elements about 
which theory generalizes but the results of theoretical activity), are 
not identical with the "wholes" which the historian considers. The 
models provided by any one theoretical science of society consist 
necessarily of elements of one kind, elements which are selected be- 
cause their connection can be explained by a coherent body of princi- 
ples and not because they help to answer a particular question about 


concrete phenomena. For the latter purpose the historian will regu- 
larly have to use generalizations belonging to different theoretical 
spheres. His work, thus, as is true of all attempts to explain particu- 
lar phenomena, presupposes theory; it is, as is all thinking about con- 
crete phenomena, an application of generic concepts to the explana- 
tion of particular phenomena. 

If the dependence of the historical study of social phenomena on 
theory is not always recognized, this is mainly due to the very simple 
nature of the majority of theoretical schemes which the historian will 
employ and which brings it about that there will be no dispute about 
the conclusions reached by their help, and little awareness that he has 
used theoretical reasoning at all. But this does not alter the fact that 
in their methodological character and validity the concepts of social 
phenomena which the historian has to employ are essentially of the 
same kind as the more elaborate models produced by the systematic 
social sciences. All the unique objects of history which he studies are 
in fact either constant patterns of relations, or repeatable processes 
in which the elements are of a generic character. When the historian 
speaks of a State or a battle, a town or a market, these words cover 
coherent structures of individual phenomena which we can compre- 
hend only by understanding the intentions of the acting individuals. 
If the historian speaks of a certain system, say the feudal system, 
persisting over a period of time, he means that a certain pattern of 
relationships continued, a certain type of actions were regularly re- 
peated, structures whose connection he can understand only by men- 
tal reproduction of the individual attitudes of which they were made 
up. The unique wholes which the historian studies, in short, are not 
given to him as individuals, 64 as natural units of which he can find out 
by observation which features belong to them, but constructions 
made by the kind of technique that is systematically developed by 
the theoretical sciences of society. Whether he endeavors to give a 
genetic account of how a particular institution arose, or a descriptive 
account of how it functioned, he cannot do so except by a combina- 
tion of generic considerations applying to the elements from which 
the unique situation is composed. Though in this work of reconstruc- 
tion he cannot use any elements except those he empirically finds, not 
observation but only the "theoretical" work of reconstruction can tell 


him which among those that he can find are part of a connected 

Theoretical and historical work are thus logically distinct but com- 
plementary activities. If their task is rightly understood, there can be 
no conflict between them. And though they have distinct tasks, 
neither is of much use without the other. But this does not alter the 
fact that neither can theory be historical nor history theoretical. 
Though the general is of interest only because it explains the par- 
ticular, and though the particular can be explained only in generic 
terms, the particular can never be the general and the general never 
the particular. The unfortunate misunderstandings that have arisen 
between historians and theorists are largely due to the name "histori- 
cal school" which has been usurped by the mongrel view better de- 
scribed as historicism and which is indeed neither history nor 

The naive view which regards the complexes which history studies 
as given wholes naturally leads to the belief that their observation can 
reveal "laws" of the development of these wholes. This belief is one 
of the most characteristic features of that scientistic history which 
under the name of historicism was trying to find an empirical basis 
for a theory of history or (using the term philosophy in its old sense 
equivalent to "theory") a "philosophy of history," and to establish 
necessary successions of definite "stages" or "phases," "systems" or 
"styles," following each other in historical development. This view 
on the one hand endeavors to find laws where in the nature of the 
case they cannot be found, in the succession of the unique and singu- 
lar historical phenomena, and on the other hand denies the possibility 
of the kind of theory which alone can help us to understand unique 
wholes, the theory which shows the different ways in which the fa- 
miliar elements can be combined to produce the unique combinations 
we find in the real world. The empiricist prejudice thus led to an in- 
version of the only procedure by which we can comprehend historical 
wholes, their reconstruction from the parts; it induced scholars to 
treat as if they were objective facts vague conceptions of wholes 
which were merely intuitively comprehended; and it finally produced 
the view that the elements which are the only thing that we can di- 


rectly comprehend and from which we must reconstruct the wholes, 
on the contrary, could be understood only from the whole, which had 
to be known before we could understand the elements. 

The belief that human history, which is the result of the interaction 
of innumerable human minds, must yet be subject to simple laws 
accessible to human minds is now so widely held that few people are 
at all aware what an astonishing claim it really implies. Instead of 
working patiently at the humble task of rebuilding from the directly 
known elements the complex and unique structures which we find in 
the world, and of tracing from the changes in the relations between 
the elements the changes in the wholes, the authors of these pseudo- 
theories of history pretend to be able to arrive by a kind of mental 
short cut at a direct insight into the laws of succession of the immedi- 
ately apprehended wholes. However doubtful their status, these theo- 
ries of development have achieved a hold on public imagination 
much greater than any of the results of genuine systematic study. 
"Philosophies" or "theories" 65 of history (or "historical theories") 
have indeed become the characteristic feature, the "darling vice" 66 
of the 19th century. From Hegel and Comte, and particularly Marx, 
down to Sombart and Spengler these spurious theories came to be 
regarded as representative results of social science; and through the 
belief that one kind of "system" must as a matter of historical neces- 
sity be superseded by a new and different "system," they have even 
exercised a profound influence on social evolution. This they 
achieved mainly because they looked like the kind of laws which the 
natural sciences produced; and in an age when these sciences set the 
standard by which all intellectual effort was measured, the claim of 
these theories of history to be able to predict future developments 
was regarded as evidence of their pre-eminently scientific character. 
Though merely one among many characteristic 19th century products 
of this kind, Marxism more than any of the others has become the 
vehicle through which this result of scientism has gained so wide an 
influence that many of the opponents of Marxism equally with its ad- 
herents are thinking in its terms. 

Apart from setting up a new ideal this development had, however, 
also the negative effect of discrediting the existing theory on which 
past understanding of social phenomena had been based. Since it was 


supposed that we could directly observe the changes in the whole of 
society or of any particular changed social phenomenon, and that 
everything within the whole must necessarily change with it, it was 
concluded that there could be no timeless generalizations about the 
elements from which these wholes were built up, no universal theo- 
ries about the ways in which they might be combined into wholes. All 
social theory, it was said, was necessarily historical, zeitgebunden, 
true only of particular historical "phases" or "systems." 

All concepts of individual phenomena, according to this strict his- 
toricism, are to be regarded as merely historical categories, valid only 
in a particular historical context. A price in the 12th century or a 
monopoly in the Egypt of 400 B.C., it is argued, is not the same 
"thing" as a price or a monopoly today, and any attempt to explain 
that price or the policy of that monopolist by the same theory which 
we would use to explain a price or a monopoly of today is therefore 
vain and bound to fail. This argument is based on a complete mis- 
apprehension of the function of theory. Of course, if we ask why a 
particular price was charged at a particular date, or why a monopo- 
list then acted in a particular manner, this is a historical question 
which cannot be fully answered by any one theoretical discipline; to 
answer it we must take into account the particular circumstances of 
time and place. But this does not mean that we must not, in selecting 
the factors relevant to the explanation of the particular price, etc., 
use precisely the same theoretical reasoning as we would with regard 
to a price of today. 

What this contention overlooks is that "price" or "monopoly" are 
not names for definite "things," fixed collections of physical attributes 
which we recognize by some of these attributes as members of the 
same class and whose further attributes we ascertain by observation; 
but that they are objects which can be defined only in terms of cer- 
tain relations between human beings and which cannot possess any 
attributes except those which follow from the relations by which 
they are defined. They can be recognized by us as prices or monopo- 
lies only because, and in so far as, we can recognize these individual 
attitudes, and from these as elements compose the structural pattern 
which we call a price or monopoly. Of course the "whole" situation, 
or even the "whole" of the men who act, will greatly differ from place 


to place and from time to time. But it is solely our capacity to recog- 
nize the familiar elements from which the unique situation is made 
up which enables us to attach any meaning to the phenomena. Either 
we cannot thus recognize the meaning of the individual actions, they 
are nothing but physical facts to us, the handing over of certain ma- 
terial things, etc., or we must place them in the mental categories 
familiar to us but not definable in physical terms. If the first conten- 
tion were true this would mean that we could not know the facts of 
the past at all, because in that case we could not understand the docu- 
ments from which we derive all knowledge of them. 67 

Consistently pursued historicism necessarily leads to the view that 
the human mind is itself variable and that not only are most or all 
manifestations of the human mind unintelligible to us apart from 
their historical setting, but that from our knowledge of how the whole 
situations succeed each other we can learn to recognize the laws ac- 
cording to which the human mind changes, and that it is the knowl- 
edge of these laws which alone puts us in a position to understand 
any particular manifestation of the human mind. Historicism, because 
of its refusal to recognize a compositive theory of universal applica- 
bility unable to see how different configurations of the same elements 
may produce altogether different complexes, and unable, for the 
same reason, to comprehend how the wholes can ever be anything 
but what the human mind consciously designed, was bound to seek 
the cause of the changes in the social structures in changes of the 
human mind itself changes which it claims to understand and ex- 
plain from changes in the directly apprehended wholes. From the ex- 
treme assertion of some sociologists that logic itself is variable, and 
the belief in the "pre-logical" character of the thinking of primitive 
people, to the more sophisticated contentions of the modern "soci- 
ology of knowledge," this approach has become one of the most 
characteristic features of modern sociology. It has raised the old 
question of the "constancy of the human mind" in a more radical 
form than has ever been done before. 

This phrase is, of course, so vague that any dispute about it with- 
out giving it further precision is futile. That not only any human in- 
dividual in its historically given complexity, but also certain types pre- 
dominant in particular ages or localities, differ in significant respects 


from other individuals or types is, of course, beyond dispute. But this 
does not alter the fact that in order that we should be able to recog- 
nize or understand them at all as human beings or minds, there must 
be certain invariable features present. We cannot recognize "mind" 
in the abstract. When we speak of mind what we mean is tljat certain 
phenomena can be successfully interpreted on the analogy of our 
own mind, that the use of the familiar categories of our own thinking 
provides a satisfactory working explanation of what we observe. But 
this means that to recognize something as mind is to recognize it as 
something similar to our own mind, and that the possibility of recog- 
nizing mind is limited to what is similar to our own mind. To speak 
of a mind with a structure fundamentally different from our own, or 
to claim that we can observe changes in the basic structure of the 
human mind is not only to claim what is impossible: it is a meaning- 
less statement. Whether the human mind is in this sense constant can 
never become a problem because to recognize mind cannot mean 
anything but to recognize something as operating in the same way as 
our own thinking. 

To recognize the existence of a mind always implies that we add 
something to what we perceive with our senses, that we interpret the 
phenomena in the light of our own mind, or find that they fit into the 
ready pattern of our own thinking. This kind of interpretation of 
human actions may not be always successful, and, what is even more 
embarrassing, we may never be absolutely certain that it is correct in 
any particular case; all we know is that it works in the overwhelming 
number of cases. Yet it is the only basis on which we ever understand 
what we call other people's intentions, or the meaning of their ac- 
tions; and certainly the only basis of all our historical knowledge 
since this is all derived from the understanding of signs or documents. 
As we pass from men of our own kind to different types of beings 
we may, of course, find that what we can thus understand becomes 
less and less. And we cannot exclude the possibility that one day we 
may find beings who, though perhaps physically resembling men, be- 
have in a way which is entirely unintelligible to us. With regard to 
them we should indeed be reduced to the "objective" study which the 
behaviorists want us to adopt towards men in general. But there 
would be no sense in ascribing to these beings a mind different from 


our own. We should know nothing of them which we could call mind, 
we should indeed know nothing about them but physical facts. Any 
interpretation of their actions in terms of such categories as intention 
or purpose, sensation or will, would be meaningless. A mind about 
which we can intelligibly speak must be like our own. 

The whole idea of the variability of the human mind is a direct re- 
sult of the erroneous belief that mind is an object which we observe 
as we observe physical facts. The sole difference between mind and 
physical objects, however, which entitles us to speak of mind at all, 
is precisely that wherever we speak of mind we interpret what we 
observe in terms of categories which we know only because they are 
the categories in which our own mind operates. There is nothing 
paradoxical in the claim that all mind must run in terms of certain 
universal categories of thought, because where we speak of mind this 
means that we can successfully interpret what we observe by arrang- 
ing it in these categories. And anything which can be comprehended 
through our understanding of other minds, anything which we recog- 
nize as specifically human, must be comprehensible in terms of these 

Through the theory of the variability of the human mind, to which 
the consistent development of historicism leads, it cuts, in effect, the 
ground under its own feet: it is led to the self-contradictory position 
of generalizing about facts which, if the theory were true, could not 
be known. If the human mind were really variable so that, as the ex- 
treme adherents of historicism assert, we could not directly under- 
stand what people of other ages meant by a particular statement, 
history would be inaccessible to us. The wholes from which we are 
supposed to understand the elements would never become visible to 
us. And even if we disregard this fundamental difficulty created by 
the impossibility of understanding the documents from which we de- 
rive all historical knowledge, without first understanding the indi- 
vidual actions and intentions the historian could never combine them 
into wholes and never explicitly state what these wholes are. He 
would, as indeed is true of so many of the adherents of historicism, 
be reduced to talking about "wholes" which are intuitively compre- 
hended, to making uncertain and vague generalizations about "styles" 
or "systems" whose character could not be precisely defined. 

It follows indeed from the nature of the evidence on which all our 


historical knowledge is based that history can never carry us beyond 
the stage where we can understand the working of the minds of the 
acting people because they are similar to our own. Where we cease 
to understand, where we can no longer recognize categories of thought 
similar to those in terms of which we think, history ceases to be 
human history. And precisely at that point, and only at that point, do 
the general theories of the social sciences cease to be valid. Since 
history and social theory are based on the same knowledge of the 
working of the human mind, the same capacity to understand other 
people, their range and scope is necessarily co-terminous. Particular 
propositions of social theory may have no application at certain 
times, because the combination of elements to which they refer to do 
not occur. 68 But they remain nevertheless true. There can be no dif- 
ferent theories for different ages, though at some times certain parts 
and at others different parts of the same body of theory may be re- 
quired to explain the observed facts, just as, e.g., generalizations 
about the effect of very low temperatures on vegetation may be ir- 
relevant in the tropics but still true. Any true theoretical statement of 
the social sciences will cease to be valid only where history ceases to 
be human history. If we conceive of somebody observing and record- 
ing the doings of another race, unintelligible to him and to us, his 
records would in a sense be history, such as, e.g., the history of an ant- 
heap. Such history would have to be written in purely objective, 
physical terms. It would be the sort of history which corresponds to 
the positivist ideal, such as the proverbial observer from another 
planet might write of the human race. But such history could not help 
us to understand any of the events recorded by it in the sense in 
which we understand human history. 

When we speak of man we necessarily imply the presence of cer- 
tain familiar mental categories. It is not the lumps of flesh of a cer- 
tain shape which we mean, nor any units performing definite func- 
tions which we could define in physical terms. The completely insane, 
none of whose actions we can understand, is not a man to us he 
could not figure in human history except as the object of other peo- 
ple's acting and thinking. When we speak of man we refer to one 
whose actions we can understand. As old Democritus said 

fivQ(OJtog lativ 6 ndvtec; 



IN THE CONCLUDING portions of this essay we have to consider cer- 
tain practical attitudes which spring from the theoretical views al- 
ready discussed. Their most characteristic common feature is a direct 
result of the inability, caused by the lack of a compositive theory of 
social phenomena, to grasp how the independent action of many men 
can produce coherent wholes, persistent structures of relationships 
which serve important human purposes without having been designed 
for that end. This produces a "pragmatic" 70 interpretation of social 
institutions which treats all social structures which serve human pur- 
poses as the result of deliberate design and which denies the possi- 
bility of an orderly or purposeful arrangement in anything which is 
not thus constructed. 

This view receives strong support from the fear of employing any 
anthropomorphic conceptions which is so characteristic of the scien- 
tistic attitude. This fear has produced an almost complete ban on the 
use of the concept of "purpose" in the discussion of spontaneous 
social growths, and it often drives positivists into an error similar to 
that they wish to avoid: having learnt that it is erroneous to regard 
everything that behaves in an apparently purposive manner as cre- 
ated by a designing mind, they are led to believe that no result of the 
action of many men can show order or serve a useful purpose unless 
it is the result of deliberate design. They are thus driven back to a 
view which is essentially the same as that which, till the eighteenth 
century, made man think of language or the family as having been 
"invented," or the state as having been created by an explicit social 
contract, and in opposition to which the compositive theories of 
social structures were developed. 


As the terms of ordinary language are somewhat misleading, it is 
necessary to move with great care in any discussion of the "purpos- 
ive" character of spontaneous social formations. The risk of being 
lured into an illegitimate anthropomorphic use of the term purpose 
is as great as that of denying that the term purpose in this connection 
designates something of importance. In its strict original meaning 
"purpose" indeed presupposes an acting person deliberately aiming 
at a result. The same, however, as we have seen before, 71 is true of 
other concepts like "law" or "organization," which we have neverthe- 
less been forced, by the lack of other suitable terms, to adopt for sci- 
entific use in a non-anthropomorphic sense. In the same way we may 
find the term "purpose" indispensable in a carefully defined sense. 

The character of the problem may usefully be described first in the 
words of an eminent contemporary philosopher who, though else- 
where, in the strict positivist manner, he declares that "the concept 
of purpose must be entirely excluded from the scientific treatment of 
the phenomena of life," yet admits the existence of "a general prin- 
ciple which proves frequently valid in psychology and biology and 
also elsewhere: namely that the result of unconscious or instinctive 
processes is frequently exactly the same as would have arisen from 
rational calculation." 72 This states one aspect of the problem very 
clearly: namely, that a result which, if it were deliberately aimed at, 
could be achieved only in a limited number of ways, may actually be 
achieved by one of those methods, although nobody has consciously 
aimed at it. But it still leaves open the question why the particular 
result which is brought about in this manner should be regarded as 
distinguished above others and therefore deserve to be described as 
the "purpose." 

If we survey the different fields in which we are constantly tempted 
to describe phenomena as "purposive" though they are not directed 
by a conscious mind, it becomes rapidly clear that the "end" or "pur- 
pose" they are said to serve is always the preservation of a "whole," 
of a persistent structure of relationships, whose existence we have 
come to take for granted before we understood the nature of the 
mechanism which holds the parts together. The most familiar in- 
stances of such wholes are the biological organisms. Here the con- 
ception of the "function" of an organ as an essential condition for 


the persistence of the whole has proved to be of the greatest heuristic 
value. It is easily seen how paralyzing an effect on research it would 
have had if the scientific prejudice had effectively banned the use of 
all teleological concepts in biology and, e.g., prevented the discoverer 
of a new organ from immediately asking what "purpose" or "func- 
tion" it serves. 78 

Though in the social sphere we meet with phenomena which in this 
respect raise analogous problems, it is, of course, dangerous to de- 
scribe them for that reason as organisms. The limited analogy pro- 
vides as such no answer to the common problem, and the loan of an 
alien term tends to obscure the equally important differences. We 
need not labor further the now familiar fact that the social wholes, un- 
like the biological organisms, are not given to us as natural units, 
fixed complexes which ordinary experience shows us to belong to- 
gether, but are recognizable only by a process of mental reconstruc- 
tion; or that the parts of the social whole, unlike those of a true 
organism, can exist away from their particular place in the whole 
and are to a large extent mobile and exchangeable. Yet, though we 
must avoid overworking the analogy, certain general considerations 
apply in both cases. As in the biological organisms we often observe 
in spontaneous social formations that the parts move as if their pur- 
pose were the preservation of the wholes. We find again and again 
that if it were somebody's deliberate aim to preserve the structure of 
those wholes, and // he had knowledge and the power to do so, he 
would have to do it by causing precisely those movements which in 
fact are taking place without any such conscious direction. 

In the social sphere these spontaneous movements which preserve 
a certain structural connection between the parts are, moreover, con- 
nected in a special way with our individual purposes: the social 
wholes which are thus maintained are the condition for the achieve- 
ment of many of the things at which we as individuals aim, the en- 
vironment which makes it possible even to conceive of most of our 
individual desires and which gives us the power to achieve them. 

There is nothing more mysterious in the fact that, e.g., money or 
the price system enable man to achieve things which he desires, al- 
though they were not designed for that purpose, and hardly could 
have been consciously designed before that growth of civilization 


which they made possible, than that, unless man had tumbled upon 
these devices, he would not have achieved the powers he has gained. 
The facts to which we refer when we speak of "purposive" forces 
being at work here, are the same as those which create the persistent 
social structures which we have come to take for granted and which 
form the conditions of our existence. The spontaneously grown insti- 
tutions are "useful" because they were the conditions on which the 
further development of man was based which gave him the powers 
which he used. If, in the form in which Adam Smith put it, the 
phrase that man in society "constantly promotes ends which are no 
part of his intention" has become the constant source of irritation of 
the scientistically-minded, it describes nevertheless the central prob- 
lem of the social sciences. As it was put a hundred years after Smith 
by Carl Menger, who did more than any other writer to carry beyond 
Smith the elucidation of the meaning of this phrase, the question 
"how it is possible that institutions which serve the common welfare 
and are most important for its advancement can arise without a com- 
mon will aiming at their creation" is still "the significant, perhaps 
the most significant, problem of the social sciences." 74 

That the nature and even the existence of this problem is still so 
little recognized 75 is closely connected with a common confusion 
about what we mean when we say that human institutions are made 
by man. Though in a sense man-made, i.e., entirely the result of 
human actions, they may yet not be designed, not be the intended 
product of these actions. The term institution itself is rather mislead- 
ing in this respect, as it suggests something deliberately instituted. It 
would probably be better if this term were confined to particular con- 
trivances, like particular laws and organizations, which have been 
created for a specific purpose, and if a more neutral term like "for- 
mations" (in a sense similar to that in which the geologists use it, and 
corresponding to the German Gebilde) could be used for those phe- 
nomena, which, like money or language, have not been so created. 

From the belief that nothing which has not been consciously de- 
signed can be useful or even essential to the achievement of human 
purposes, it is an easy transition to the belief that since all "institu- 
tions" have been made by man, we must have complete power to re- 
fashion them in any way we desire. 76 But, though this conclusion at 


first sounds like a self-evident commonplace, it is, in fact, a complete 
non sequitur, based on the equivocal use of the term "institution." 
It would be valid only if all the "purposive" formations were the re- 
sult of design. But phenomena like language or the market, money 
or morals, are not real artifacts, products of deliberate creation. 77 
Not only have they not been designed by any mind, but they are also 
preserved by, and depend for their functioning on, the actions of peo- 
ple who are not guided by the desire to keep them in existence. And, 
as they are not due to design but rest on individual actions which we 
do not now control, we at least can not take it for granted that we 
can improve upon, or even equal, their performance by any organi- 
zation which relies on the deliberate control of the movements of its 
parts. In so far as we learn to understand the spontaneous forces, we 
may hope to use them and modify their operations by proper adjust- 
ment of the institutions which form part of the larger process. But 
there is all the difference between thus utilizing and influencing spon- 
taneous processes and an attempt to replace them by an organization 
which relies on conscious control. 

We flatter ourselves undeservedly if we represent human civiliza- 
tion as entirely the product of conscious reason or as the product of 
human design, or when we assume that it is necessarily in our power 
deliberately to re-create or to maintain what we have built without 
knowing what we were doing. Though our civilization is the result of 
a cumulation of individual knowledge, it is not by the explicit or con- 
scious combination of all this knowledge in any individual brain, but 
by its embodiment in symbols which we use without understanding 
them, in habits and institutions, tools and concepts, 78 that man in so- 
ciety is constantly able to profit from a body of knowledge neither he 
nor any other man completely possesses. Many of the greatest things 
man has achieved are not the result of consciously directed thought, 
and still less the product of a deliberately co-ordinated effort of many 
individuals, but of a process in which the individual plays a part 
which he can never fully understand. They are greater than any in- 
dividual precisely because they result from the combination of knowl- 
edge more extensive than a single mind can master. 

It has been unfortunate that those who have recognized this so 
often draw the conclusion that the problems it raises are purely his- 


torical problems, and thereby deprive themselves of the means of ef- 
fectively refuting the views they try to combat. In fact, as we have 
seen, 79 much of the older "historical school" was essentially a re- 
action against the type of erroneous rationalism we are discussing. If 
it failed it was because it treated the problem of explaining these 
phenomena as entirely one of the accidents of time and place and re- 
fused systematically to elaborate the logical process by which alone 
we can provide an explanation. We need not return here to this point 
already discussed. 80 Though the explanation of the way in which the 
parts of the social whole depend upon each other will often take the 
form of a genetic account, this will be at most "schematic history" 
which the true historian will rightly refuse to recognize as real his- 
tory. It will deal, not with the particular circumstances of an indi- 
vidual process, but only with those steps which are essential to pro- 
duce a particular result, with a process which, at least in principle, 
may be repeated elsewhere or at different times. As is true of all ex- 
planations, it must run in generic terms, it will deal with what is 
sometimes called the "logic of events," neglect much that is impor- 
tant in the unique historical instance, and be concerned with a de- 
pendence of the parts of the phenomenon upon each other which is 
not even necessarily the same as the chronological order in which 
they appeared. In short, it is not history, but compositive social 

One curious aspect of this problem which is rarely appreciated is 
that it is only by the individualist or compositive method that we can 
give a definite meaning to the much abused phrases about the social 
processes and formations being in any sense "more" than "merely 
the sum" of their parts, and that we are enabled to understand how 
structures of interpersonal relationships emerge, which make it pos- 
sible for the joint efforts of individuals to achieve desirable results 
which no individual could have planned or foreseen. The collectivist, 
on the other hand, who refuses to account for the wholes by syste- 
matically following up the interactions of individual efforts, and who 
claims to be able directly to comprehend social wholes as such, is 
never able to define the precise character of these wholes or their 
mode of operation, and is regularly driven to conceive of these 
wholes on the model of an individual mind. 


Even more significant of the inherent weakness of the collectivist 
theories is the extraordinary paradox that from the assertion that so- 
ciety is in some sense "more" than merely the aggregate of all indi- 
viduals their adherents regularly pass by a sort of intellectual somer- 
sault to the thesis that in order that the coherence of this larger entity 
be safeguarded it must be subjected to conscious control, i.e., to the 
control of what in the last resort must be an individual mind. It thus 
comes about that in practice it is regularly the theoretical collectivist 
who extols individual reason and demands that all forces of society 
be made subject to the direction of a single mastermind, while it is 
the individualist who recognizes the limitations of the powers of in- 
dividual reason and consequently advocates freedom as a means for 
the fullest development of the powers of the inter-individual process. 



THE UNIVERSAL DEMAND for "conscious" control or direction of so- 
cial processes is one of the most characteristic features of our gen- 
eration. It expresses perhaps more clearly than any of its other 
cliches the peculiar spirit of the age. That anything is not consciously 
directed as a whole is regarded as itself a blemish, a proof of its ir- 
rationality and of the need completely to replace it by a deliberately 
designed mechanism. Yet few of the people who use the term "con- 
scious" so freely seem to be aware precisely what it means; most peo- 
ple seem to forget that "conscious" and "deliberate" are terms which 
have meaning only when applied to individuals, and that the demand 
for conscious control is therefore equivalent to the demand for con- 
trol by a single mind. 

This belief that processes which are consciously directed are neces- 
sarily superior to any spontaneous process is an unfounded supersti- 
tion. It would be truer to say, as A. N. Whitehead has argued in 
another connection, that on the contrary "civilization advances by 
extending the number of important operations we can perform with- 
out thinking about them." 81 If it is true that the spontaneous inter- 
play of social forces sometimes solves problems no individual mind 
could consciously solve, or perhaps even perceives, and if they 
thereby create an ordered structure which increases the power of the 
individuals without having been designed by any one of them, they 
are superior to conscious action. Indeed, any social processes which 
deserve to be called "social" in distinction to the action of individuals 
are almost ex definitione not conscious. In so far as such processes 
are capable of producing a useful order which could not have been 



produced by conscious, direction, any attempt to make them subject 
to such direction would necessarily mean that we restrict what social 
activity can achieve to the inferior capacity of the individual mind. 82 

The full significance of this demand for universal conscious con- 
trol will be seen most clearly if we consider it first in its most ambi- 
tious manifestation, even though this is as yet merely a vague aspira- 
tion and important mainly as a symptom: this is the application of 
the demand for conscious control to the growth of the human mind 
itself. This audacious idea is the most extreme result to which man 
has yet been led by the success of reason in the conquest of external 
nature. It has become a characteristic feature of contemporary 
thought and appears in what on a first view seem to be altogether dif- 
ferent and even opposite systems of ideas. Whether it is the late L. T. 
Hobhouse who holds up to us "the ideal of a collective humanity self- 
determining in its progress as the supreme object of human activity 
and the final standard by which the laws of conduct should be 
judged," 83 or Dr. Joseph Needham who argues that "the more con- 
trol consciousness has over human affairs, the more truly human and 
hence super-human man will become," 84 whether it is the strict fol- 
lowers of Hegel who adumbrate the master's view of Reason becom- 
ing conscious of itself and taking control of its fate, or Dr. Karl 
Mannheim who thinks that "man's thought has become more spon- 
taneous and absolute than it ever was, since it now perceives the 
possibility of determining itself," 85 the basic attitude is the same. 
Though, according as these doctrines spring from Hegelian or posi- 
tivist views, those who hold them form distinct groups who mutually 
regard themselves as completely different from and greatly superior 
to the other, the common idea that the human mind is, as it were, 
to pull itself up by its own boot-straps, springs from the same general 
approach: the belief that by studying human Reason from the out- 
side and as a whole we can grasp the laws of its motion in a more 
complete and comprehensive manner than by its patient exploration 
from the inside, by actually following up the processes in which in- 
dividual minds interact. 

This pretension to be able to increase the powers of the human 
mind by consciously controlling its growth is thus based on the 
same theoretical view which claims to be able fully to explain this 


growth, a claim which implies the possession of a kind of super- 
mind on the part of those who make it; and it is no accident that 
those who hold these theoretical views should also wish to see the 
growth of mind thus directed. 

It is important to understand the precise sense in which the claim 
to be able to "explain" existing knowledge and beliefs must be 
interpreted in order to justify the aspirations based on it. For this 
purpose it would not be sufficient if we possessed an adequate 
theory which explained the principles on which the processes operate 
to which the growth of mind is due. Such knowledge of the mere 
principles (either a theory of knowledge or a theory of the social 
processes involved) will assist in creating conditions favorable to 
that growth, but could never provide a justification for the claim 
that it should be deliberately directed. This claim presupposes that 
we are able to arrive at a substantive explanation of why we hold 
the particular views we hold, of how our actual knowledge is deter- 
mined by specific conditions. It is this which the "sociology of 
knowledge" and the various other derivatives of the "materialist 
interpretation of history" undertake when, e.g., they "explain" the 
Kantian philosophy as the product of the material interests of the 
German bourgeoisie in the late 18th century, or whatever other 
similar theses they present. 

We cannot enter here into a discussion of the reasons why even 
with respect to views now regarded as errors, and which on the basis 
of our better present knowledge we may in a sense be able to explain, 
that method does not really provide an explanation. The crucial 
point is that to attempt this with respect to our present knowledge 
involves a contradiction: if we knew how our present knowledge 
is conditioned or determined, it would no longer be our present 
knowledge. To assert that we can explain our own knowledge is to 
assert that we know more than we do know, a statement which is 
non-sense in the strict meaning of that term. 80 There may, perhaps, 
be sense in the statement that to a greatly superior mind our present 
knowledge would appear as "relative," or as conditioned in a certain 
manner by assignable circumstances. But the only conclusion we 
should be entitled to draw from this would be one opposite to that 
of the "boot-strap theory of mental evolution": it would be that 


on the basis of our present knowledge we are not in a position 
successfully to direct its growth. To draw any other conclusion 
than this, to derive from the thesis that human beliefs are determined 
by circumstances the claim that somebody should be given power to 
determine these beliefs, involves the claim that those who are to 
assume that power possess some sort of super-mind. Those who hold 
these views have indeed regularly some special theory which exempts 
their own views from the same sort of explanation and which credits 
them, as a specially favored class, or simply as the "free-floating 
intelligentsia," with the possession of absolute knowledge. 

While in a sense this movement represents thus a sort of super- 
rationalism, a demand for the direction of everything by a super- 
mind, it prepares at the same time the ground for a thorough irration- 
alism. If truth is no longer discovered by observation, reasoning and 
argument, but by uncovering hidden causes which, unknown to the 
thinker, have determined his conclusions, if whether a statement 
is true or false is no longer decided by logical argument and empirical 
tests, but by examining the social position of the person who made 
it, when in consequence it becomes the membership of a class or 
race which secures or prevents the achievement of truth, and when 
in the end it is claimed that the sure instinct of a particular class or 
a people is always right, reason has been finally driven out. 8T This is 
no more than the natural result of a doctrine which starts out with 
the claim that it can intuitively recognize wholes in a manner superior 
to the rational reconstruction attempted by compositive social 

If it is true, moreover, as in their different ways both individualists 
and collectivism contend, that social processes can achieve things 
which it is beyond the power of the individual mind to achieve and 
plan, and that it is from those social processes that the individual 
mind derives what power it possesses, the attempt to impose con- 
scious control on these processes must have even more fatal conse- 
quences. The presumptuous aspiration that "reason" should direct 
its own growth could in practice only have the effect that it would 
set limits to its own growth, that it would confine itself to the results 
which the directing individual mind can already foresee. Though 
this aspiration is a direct outcome of a certain brand of rationalism, 


it is, of course, the result of a misunderstood or misapplied ration- 
alism which fails to recognize the extent to which individual reason 
is a product of inter-individual relationships. Indeed, the demand 
that everything, including the growth of the human mind, should be 
consciously controlled is itself a sign of the inadequate understanding 
of the general character of the forces which constitutes the life of 
the human mind and of human society. It is the extreme stage of 
these self-destructive forces of our modern "scientific'' civilization, 
of that abuse of reason whose development and consequences will be 
the central theme of the following historical studies. 

It is because the growth of the human mind presents in its most 
general form the common problem of all the social sciences that it 
is here that minds most sharply divide, and that two fundamentally 
different and irreconcilable attitudes manifest themselves: on the one 
hand the essential humility of individualism, which endeavors to 
understand as well as possible the principles by which the efforts of 
individual men have in fact been combined to produce our civili- 
zation, and which from this understanding hopes to derive the power 
to create conditions favorable to further growth; and, on the other 
hand, the hubris of collectivism which aims at conscious direction 
of all forces of society. 

The individualist approach, in awareness of the constitutional 
limitations of the individual mind, 88 attempts to show how man in 
society is able, by the use of various resultants of the social process, 
to increase his powers with the help of the knowledge implicit in 
them and of which he is never aware; it makes us understand that 
the only "reason" which can in any sense be regarded as superior 
to individual reason does not exist apart from the inter-individual 
process in which, by means of impersonal media, the knowledge of 
successive generations and of millions of people living simultane- 
ously is combined and mutually adjusted, and that this process is 
the only form in which the totality of human knowledge ever exists. 

The collectivist method, on the other hand, not satisfied with 
the partial knowledge of this process from the inside, which is all the 
individual can gain, bases its demands for conscious control on the 
assumption that it can comprehend this process as a whole and make 
use of all knowledge in a systematically integrated form. It leads 


thus directly to political collectivism; and though logically methodo- 
logical and political collectivism are distinct, it is not difficult to see 
how the former leads to the latter and how, indeed, without methodo- 
logical collectivism political collectivism would be deprived of its 
intellectual basis: without the pretension that conscious individual 
reason can grasp all the aims and all the knowledge of "society" or 
"humanity," the belief that these aims are best achieved by conscious 
central direction loses its foundation. Consistently pursued it must 
lead to a system in which all members of society become merely 
instruments of the single directing mind and in which all the spon- 
taneous social forces to which the growth of the mind is due are 
destroyed. 89 

It may indeed prove to be far the most difficult and not the least 
important task for human reason rationally to comprehend its own 
limitations. It is essential for the growth of reason that as individuals 
we should bow to forces and obey principles which we cannot hope 
fully to understand, yet on which the advance and even the preser- 
vation of civilization depends. 90 Historically this has been achieved 
by the influence of the various religious creeds and by traditions 
and superstitions which made men submit to those forces by an 
appeal to his emotions rather than to his reason. The most dangerous 
stage in the growth of civilization may well be that in which man has 
come to regard all these beliefs as superstitions and refuses to accept 
or to submit to anything which he does not rationally understand. 
The rationalist whose reason is not sufficient to teach him those 
limitations of the powers of conscious reason, and who despises 
all the institutions and customs which have not been consciously 
designed, would thus become the destroyer of the civilization built 
upon them. This may well prove a hurdle which man will repeatedly 
reach, only to be thrown back into barbarism. 

It would lead too far here to refer more than briefly to another 
field in which this same characteristic tendency of our age shows 
itself: that of morals. Here it is against the observance of any general 
and formal rules whose rationale is not explicitly demonstrated 
that the same kind of objections are raised. But the demand that 
every action should be judged after full consideration of all its 
consequences and not by any general rules is due to a failure to see 


that the submission to general rules, couched in terms of immediately 
ascertainable circumstances, is the only way in which for man with 
his limited knowledge freedom can be combined with the essential 
minimum degree of order. Common acceptance of formal rules is 
indeed the only alternative to direction by a single will man has 
yet discovered. The general acceptance of such a body of rules 
is no less important because they have not been rationally con- 
structed. It is at least doubtful whether it would be possible in this 
way to construct a new moral code that would have any chance of 
acceptance. But so long as we have not succeeded in doing so, any 
general refusal to accept existing moral rules merely because their 
expediency has not been rationally demonstrated (as distinguished 
from the case when the critic believes he has discovered a better 
moral rule in a particular instance and is willing to brave public 
disapproval in testing it) is to destroy one of the roots of our 
civilization. 91 



THE IDEAL OF conscious control of social phenomena has made its 
greatest influence felt in the economic field. The present popularity 
of "economic planning" is directly traceable to the prevalence of the 
scientistic ideas we have been discussing. As in this field the scientistic 
ideals manifest themselves in the particular forms which they take 
in the hands of the applied scientist and especially the engineer, it 
will be convenient to combine the discussion of this influence with 
some examination of the characteristic ideals of the engineers. We 
shall see that the influence on current views about problems of social 
organization of his technological approach, or the engineering point 
of view, is much greater than is generally realized. Most of the 
schemes for a complete remodelling of society, from the earlier 
Utopias to modern socialism, bear indeed the distinct mark of this 
influence. In recent years this desire to apply engineering technique 
to the solution of social problems has become very explicit; M "po- 
litical engineering" and "social engineering" have become fashionable 
catchwords which are quite as characteristic of the outlook of the 
present generation as its predilection for "conscious" control; in 
Russia even the artists appear to pride themselves on the name of 
"engineers of the soul," bestowed upon them by Stalin. These phrases 
suggest a confusion about the fundamental differences between the 
task of the engineer and that of social organizations on a larger 
scale which make it desirable to consider their character somewhat 
more fully. 

We must confine ourselves here to a few salient features of the 
specific problems which the professional experience of the engineer 
constantly bring up and which determine his outlook. The first is 


that his characteristic tasks are usually in themselves complete: he 
will be concerned with a single end, control all the efforts directed 
towards this end, and dispose for this purpose over a definitely given 
supply of resources. It is as a result of this that the most characteristic 
feature of his procedure becomes possible, namely that, at least in 
principle, all the parts of the complex of operations are preformed 
in the engineer's mind before they start, that all the "data" on which 
the work is based have explicitly entered his preliminary calculations 
and been condensed into the "blue-print" that governs the execution 
of the whole scheme. 94 ' e5 The engineer, in other words, has complete 
control of the particular little world with which he is concerned, 
surveys it in all its relevant aspects and has to deal only with 
"known quantities." So far as the solution of his engineering problem 
is concerned, he is not taking part in a social process in which others 
may take independent decisions, but lives in a separate world of 
his own. The application of the technique which he has mastered, 
of the generic rules he has been taught, indeed presupposes such 
complete knowledge of the objective facts; those rules refer to objec- 
tive properties of the things and can be applied only after all the 
particular circumstances of time and place have been assembled 
and brought under the control of a single brain. His technique, in 
other words, refers to typical situations defined in terms of objective 
facts, not to the problem of how to find out what resources are 
available or what is the relative importance of different needs. He 
has been trained in objective possibilities, irrespective of the par- 
ticular conditions of time and place, in the knowledge of those 
properties of things which remain the same everywhere and at all 
times and which they possess irrespective of a particular human 

It is important, however, to observe that the engineer's view of 
his job as complete in itself is, in some measure, a delusion. He is in 
a position in a competitive society to treat it as such because he can 
regard that assistance from society at large on which he counts as one 
of his data, as given to him without having to bother about it. That 
he can buy at given prices the materials and the services of the men 
he needs, that if he pays his men they will be able to procure their 
food and other necessities, he will usually take for granted. It is 


through basing his plans on the data offered to him by the market 
that they are fitted into the larger complex of social activities; and 
it is because he need not concern himself how the market provides 
him with what he needs that he can treat his job as self-contained. 
So long as market prices do not change unexpectedly he uses them as 
a guide in his calculations without much reflection about their signif- 
icance. But, though he is compelled to take them into account, they 
are not properties of things of the same kind as those which he 
understands. They are not objective attributes of things but reflec- 
tions of a particular human situation at a given time and place. And 
as his knowledge does not explain why those changes in prices occur 
which often interfere with his plans, any such interference appears 
to him due to irrational (i.e., not consciously directed) forces, and 
he resents the necessity of paying attention to magnitudes which 
appear meaningless to him. Hence the characteristic and ever-recur- 
rent demand for the substitution of in natura 96 calculation for the 
"artificial" calculation in terms of price or value, i.e., of a calculation 
which takes explicit account of the objective properties of things. 
The engineer's ideal which he feels the "irrational" economic 
forces prevent him from achieving, based on his study of the objective 
properties of the things, is usually some purely technical optimum 
of universal validity. He rarely sees that his preference for these 
particular methods is merely a result of the type of problem he has 
most frequently to solve, and justified only in particular social posi- 
tions. Since the most common problem the builder of machines meets 
is to extract from given resources the maximum of power, with the 
machinery to be used as the variable under his control, this maximum 
utilization of power is set up as an absolute ideal, a value in itself. 97 
But there is, of course, no special merit economizing one of the many 
factors which limit the possible achievement, at the expense of others. 
The engineer's "technical optimum" proves frequently to be simply 
that method which it would be desirable to adopt if the supply of 
capital were unlimited, or the rate of interest were zero, which would 
indeed be a position in which we would aim at the highest possible 
rate of transformation of current input into current output. But to 
treat this as an immediate goal is to forget that such a state can be 
reached only by diverting for a long time resources which are wanted 


to serve current needs to the production of equipment. In other 
words, the engineer's ideal is based on the disregard of the most 
fundamental economic fact which determines our position here and 
now, the scarcity of capital. 

The rate of interest is, of course, only one, though the least under- 
stood and therefore the most disliked, of those prices which act 
as impersonal guides to which the engineer must submit if his plans 
are to fit into the pattern of activity of society as a whole, and 
against the restraint of which he chafes because they represent 
forces whose rationale he does not understand. It is one of those 
symbols in which the whole complex of human knowledge and wants 
is automatically (though by no means faultlessly) recorded, and to 
which the individual must pay attention if he wants to keep in step 
with the rest of the system. If, instead of using this information in the 
abridged form in which it is conveyed to him through the price 
system, he were to try in every instance to go back to the objective 
facts and take them consciously into consideration, this would be 
to dispense with the method which makes it possible for him to 
confine himself to the immediate circumstances and to substitute 
for it a method which requires that all this knowledge be collected 
in one center and explicitly and consciously embodied in a unitary 
plan. The application of engineering technique to the whole of 
society requires indeed that the director possess the same complete 
knowledge of the whole society that the engineer possesses of his 
limited world. Central economic planning is nothing but such an 
application of engineering principles to the whole of society based 
on the assumption that such a complete concentration of all relevant 
knowledge is possible. 98 

Before we proceed to consider the significance of this conception 
of a rational organization of society, it will be useful to supplement 
the sketch of the typical outlook of the engineer by an even briefer 
sketch of the functions of the merchant or trader. This will not only 
further elucidate the nature of the problem of the utilization of 
knowledge dispersed among many people, but also help to explain 
the dislike which not only the engineer but our whole generation 
shows for all commercial activities, and the general preference that 


is now accorded to "production" compared to the activities which, 
somewhat misleadingly, are referred to as "distribution." 

Compared with the work of the engineer that of the merchant is 
in a sense much more "social," i.e., interwoven with the free activities 
of other people. He contributes a step towards the achievement now 
of one end, now of another, and hardly ever is concerned with the 
complete process that serves a final need. What concerns him is not 
the achievement of a particular final result of the complete process 
in which he takes part, but the best use of the particular means of 
which he knows. His special knowledge is almost entirely knowledge 
of particular circumstances of time or place, or, perhaps, a technique 
of ascertaining those circumstances in a given field. But though this 
knowledge is not of a kind which can be formulated in generic prop- 
ositions, or acquired once and for all, and though in an age of Science 
it is for that reason regarded as knowledge of an inferior kind, it is 
for all practical purposes no less important than scientific knowledge. 
And while it is perhaps conceivable that all theoretical knowledge 
might be combined in the heads of a few experts and thus made 
available to a single central authority, it is this knowledge of the 
particular, of the fleeting circumstances of the moment and of local 
conditions, which will never exist otherwise than dispersed among 
many people. The knowledge of when a particular material or 
machine can be used most effectively or where they can be obtained 
most quickly or cheaply is quite as important for the solution of 
a particular task as the knowledge of what is the best material or 
machine for the purpose. The former kind of knowledge has little to 
do with the permanent properties of classes of things which the 
engineer studies, but is knowledge of a particular human situation. 
And it is as the person whose task is to take account of these facts 
that the merchant will constantly come into conflict with the ideals 
of the engineer, with whose plans he interferes and whose dislike he 
thereby contracts." 

The problem of securing an efficient use of our resources is thus 
very largely one of how that knowledge of the particular circum- 
stances of the moment can be most effectively utilized; and the task 
which faces the designer of a rational order of society is to find a 


method whereby this widely dispersed knowledge may best be drawn 
upon. It is begging the question to describe this task, as is usually 
done, as one of effectively using the "available" resources to satisfy 
"existing" needs. Neither the "available" resources nor the "existing" 
needs are objective facts in the sense of those with which the engineer 
deals in his limited field: they can never be directly known in all 
relevant detail to a single planning body. Resources and needs exist 
for practical purposes only through somebody knowing about them, 
and there will always be infinitely more known to all the people to- 
gether than can be known to the most competent authority. 100 A suc- 
cessful solution can therefore not be based on the authority dealing 
directly with the objective facts, but must be based on a method of 
utilizing the knowledge dispersed among all members of society, 
knowledge of which in any particular instance the central authority 
will usually know neither who possesses it nor whether it exists at all. 
It can therefore not be utilized by consciously integrating it into a 
coherent whole, but only through some mechanism which will dele- 
gate the particular decisions to those who possess it, and for that 
purpose supply them with such information about the general situa- 
tion as will enable them to make the best use of the particular cir- 
cumstances of which only they know. 

This is precisely the function which the various "markets" perform. 
Though every party in them will know only a small sector of all the 
possible sources of supply, or of the uses of, a commodity, yet, 
directly or indirectly, the parties are so interconnected that the prices 
register the relevant net results of all changes affecting demand or 
supply. 101 It is as such an instrument for communicating to all those 
interested in a particular commodity the relevant information in 
an abridged and condensed form that markets and prices must be 
seen if we are to understand their function. They help to utilize the 
knowledge of many people without the need of first collecting it 
in a single body, and thereby make possible that combination of 
decentralization of decisions and mutual adjustment of these decisions 
which we find in a competitive system. 

In aiming at a result which must be based, not on a single body of 
integrated knowledge or of connected reasoning which the designer 
possesses, but on the separate knowledge of many people, the task 


of social organization differs fundamentally from that of organizing 
given material resources. The fact that no single mind can know 
more than a fraction of what is known to all individual minds sets 
limits to the extent to which conscious direction can improve upon 
the results of unconscious social processes. Man has not deliberately 
designed this process and has begun to understand it only long after 
it had grown up. But that something which not only does not rely on 
deliberate control for its working, but which has not even been de- 
liberately designed, should bring about desirable results, which we 
might not be able to bring about otherwise, is a conclusion the natural 
scientist seems to find difficult to accept. 

It is because the moral sciences tend to show us such limits to 
our conscious control, while the progress of the natural sciences 
constantly extends the range of conscious control, that the natural 
scientist finds himself so frequently in revolt against the teaching 
of the moral sciences. Economics, in particular, after being con- 
demned for employing methods different from those of the natural 
scientist, stands doubly condemned because it claims to show limits 
to the technique by which the natural scientists continuously extend 
our conquest and mastery of nature. 

It is this conflict with a strong human instinct, greatly strengthened 
in the person of the scientist and engineer, that makes the teaching 
of the moral sciences so very unwelcome. As Bertrand Russell has 
well described the position, "the pleasure of planned construction 
is one of the most powerful motives in men who combine intelligence 
with energy; whatever can be constructed according to a plan, such 
man will endeavor to construct . . . the desire to create is not in 
itself idealistic since it is a form of the love of power, and while the 
power to create exists there will be men desirous of using this power 
even if unaided nature would produce a better result than any that 
can be brought about by deliberate intention." 102 This statement 
occurs, however, at the beginning of a chapter, significantly headed 
"Artificially Created Societies," in which Russell himself seems to 
support these tendencies by arguing that "no society can be regarded 
as fully scientific unless it has been created deliberately with a certain 
structure to fulfill certain purposes." 103 As this statement will be un- 
derstood by most readers, it expresses concisely that scientistic phi- 


losophy which through its popularizers has done more to create 
the present trend towards socialism than all the conflicts between 
economic interests which, though they raise a problem, do not nec- 
essarily indicate a particular solution. Of the majority of the in- 
tellectual leaders of the socialist movement, at least, it is probably 
true to say that they are socialists because socialism appears to them, 
as A. Bebel, the leader of the German Social Democratic movement 
defined it sixty years ago, as "science applied in clear awareness 
and with full insight to all fields of human activity." 104 The proof 
that the program of socialism actually derives from this kind of 
scientistic philosophy must be reserved for the detailed historical 
studies. At present our concern is mainly to show to what extent 
sheer intellectual error in this field may profoundly affect all prospects 
of humanity. 

What the people who are so unwilling to renounce any of the 
powers of conscious control seem to be unable to comprehend is 
that this renunciation of conscious power, power which must always 
be power by men over other men, is for society as a whole only an 
apparent resignation, a self-denial individuals are called upon to 
exercise in order to increase the powers of the race, to release the 
knowledge and energies of the countless individuals that could never 
be utilized in a society consciously directed from the top. The great 
misfortune of our generation is that the direction which by the amaz- 
ing progress of the natural sciences has been given to its interests 
is not one which assists us in comprehending the larger process of 
which as individuals we form merely a part or in appreciating how 
we constantly contribute to a common effort without either direct- 
ing it or submitting to orders of others. To see this requires a kind 
of intellectual effort different in character from that necessary for the 
control of material tiling^, an effort in which the traditional education 
in the "humanities" gave at least some practice, but for which the 
now predominant types of education seem less and less to prepare. 
The more our technical civilization advances and the more, therefore, 
the study of things as distinct from the study of men and their ideas 
qualifies for the more important and influential positions, the more 
significant becomes the gulf that separates two different types of 
mind: the one represented by the man whose supreme ambition is 


to turn the world round him into an enormous machine, every part 
of which, on his pressing a button, moves according to his design; 
and the other represented by the man whose main interest is the 
growth of the human mind in all its aspects, who in the study of 
history or literature, the arts or the law, has learned to see the indi- 
viduals as part of a process in which his contribution is not directed 
but spontaneous, and where he assists in the creation of something 
greater than he or any other single mind can ever plan for. It is this 
awareness of being part of a social process, and of the manner in 
which individual efforts interact, which the education solely in the 
Sciences or in technology seems so lamentably to fail to convey. It is 
not surprising that many of the more active minds among those so 
trained sooner or later react violently against the deficiencies of their 
education and develop a passion for imposing on society the order 
which they are unable to detect by the means with which they are 

In conclusion it is, perhaps, desirable to remind the reader once 
more that all we have said here is directed solely against a misuse 
of Science, not against the scientist in the special field where he is 
competent, but against the application of his mental habits in fields 
where he is not competent. There is no conflict between our con- 
clusions and those of legitimate science. The main lesson at which 
we have arrived is indeed the same as that which one of the acutest 
students of scientific method has drawn from a survey of all fields 
of knowledge: it is that "the great lesson of humility which science 
teaches us, that we can never be omnipotent or omniscient, is the 
same as that of all great religions: man is not and never will be the 
god before whom he must bow down." 105 

Part Two 



The age preferred the reign of intellect to the reign of liberty. 




1. NEVER WILL MAN penetrate deeper into error than when he is 
continuing on a road which has led him to great success. And never 
can pride in the achievements of the natural sciences and confidence 
in the omnipotence of their methods have been more justified than at 
the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and nowhere 
more so than at Paris where almost all the great scientists of the age 
congregated. If it is true, therefore, that the new attitude of man to- 
wards social affairs in the nineteenth century is due to the new men- 
tal habits acquired in the intellectual and material conquest of nature, 
we should expect it to appear where modern science celebrated its 
greatest triumphs. In this we shall not be disappointed. Both the two 
great intellectual forces which in the course of the nineteenth century 
transformed social thought modern socialism and that species of 
modern positivism, which we prefer to call scientism, spring directly 
from this body of professional scientists and engineers which grew up 
in Paris, and more particularly from the new institution which em- 
bodied the new spirit as no other, the Ecole poly technique. 

It is well known that French Enlightenment was characterized by 
a general enthusiasm for the natural sciences as never yet known be- 
fore. Voltaire is the father of that cult of Newton which later was to 
be carried to ridiculous heights by Saint-Simon. And the new passion 
soon began to bear great fruits. At first the interest concentrated on 
the subjects connected with Newton's great name. In Clairault and 
d'Alembert, with Euler the greatest mathematicians of the period, 
Newton soon found worthy successors who in turn were followed 
by Lagrange and Laplace, no less giants. And with Lavoisier, not 



only the founder of modern chemistry but also a great physiologist, 
and, to a lesser degree, with Buffon in biological science, France 
began to take the lead in all important fields of natural knowledge. 

The great Encyclopaedic was a gigantic attempt to unify and popu- 
larize the achievements of the new science, and d'Alembert's "Dis- 
cours preliminaire" (1754) to the great work, in which he attempted 
to trace the rise, progress and affinities of the various sciences, may 
be regarded as the Introduction not only to the work but to a whole 
period. This great mathematician and physicist did much to prepare 
the way for the revolution in mechanics by which towards the end of 
the century his pupil Lagrange finally freed it from all metaphysical 
concepts and restated the whole subject without any reference to ulti- 
mate causes or hidden forces, merely describing the laws by which 
the effects were connected. 1 No other single step in any science ex- 
presses more clearly the tendency of the scientific movement of the 
age or had greater influence or symbolic significance. 2 

Yet while this step was still gradually preparing in the field where 
it was to take its most conspicuous form, the general tendency which 
it expressed was already recognized and described by d'Alembert's 
contemporary Turgot. In the amazing and masterly discourses which 
as a young man of 23 he delivered at the opening and the closing of 
the session of the Sorbonne in 1750, and in the sketch of a Discourse 
on Universal History of the same period, he outlined how the ad- 
vance of our knowledge of nature was accompanied throughout by 
a gradual emancipation from those anthropomorphic concepts which 
first led man to interpret natural phenomena after his own image as 
animated by a mind like his own. This idea, which was later to be- 
come the leading theme of positivism and was ultimately misapplied 
to the science of man himself, was soon afterwards widely popu- 
larized by President C. de Brosses under the name of fetishism, 3 the 
name under which it remained known till it was much later replaced 
by the expressions anthropomorphism and animism. But Turgot went 
even further and, completely anticipating Comte on this point, de- 
scribed how this process of emancipation passed through three stages 
where, after supposing that natural phenomena were produced by 
intelligent beings, invisible but resembling ourselves, they began to 
be explained by abstract expressions such as essences and faculties, 


till at last "by observing reciprocal mechanical action of bodies hy- 
potheses were formed which could be developed by mathematics and 
verified by experience." 4 

It has often been pointed out 5 that most of the leading ideas of 
French Positivism had already been formulated by d'Alembert and 
Turgot and their friends and pupils Lagrange and Condorcet. For 
most of what is valid and valuable in that doctrine this is unques- 
tionably true, although their positivism differed from that of Hume 
by a strong tinge of French rationalism. And, as there will be no op- 
portunity to go into this aspect more fully, it should perhaps be spe- 
cially stressed at this stage that throughout the development of 
French positivism this rationalist element, probably due to the influ- 
ence of Descartes, continued to play an important role. 6 

It must be pointed out however that these great French thinkers 
of the eighteenth century showed scarcely any trace yet of that 
illegitimate extension to the phenomena of society of scientistic 
methods of thought which later became so characteristic of that 
School excepting perhaps certain ideas of Turgot about the phil- 
osophy of history and still more so some of Condorcet's last sugges- 
tions. But none of them had any doubt about the legitimacy of the 
abstract and theoretical method in the study of social phenomena, 
and they were all staunch individualists. It is particularly interesting 
to observe that Turgot, and the same is true of David Hume, was at 
the same time one of the founders of positivism and of abstract eco- 
nomic theory, against which positivism was later to be employed. But 
in some respects most of these men unwittingly started trains of 
thought which produced views on social matters very different from 
their own. 

This is particularly true of Condorcet. A mathematician like d'Alem- 
bert and Lagrange, he definitely turned to the theory as well as to the 
practice of politics. And although to the last he understood that 
"meditation alone may lead us to general truths in the science of 
man," 7 he was not merely anxious to supplement this by extensive 
observation but occasionally expressed himself as if the method of 
the natural sciences were the only legitimate one in the treatment of 
the problems of society. It was particularly his desire to apply his be- 
loved mathematics, especially the newly developed calculus of proba- 


bility, to his second sphere of interest, which led him to stress more 
and more the study of those social phenomena which would be ob- 
jectively observed and measured. 8 As early as 1783, in the oration 
at his reception into the Academic, he gave expression to what was 
to become a favorite idea of positivist sociology, that of an observer 
to whom physical and social phenomena would appear in the same 
light, because, "a stranger to our race, he would study human society 
as we study those of the beavers and bees." 9 And although he admits 
that this is an unattainable ideal because "the observer is himself a 
part of human society," he repeatedly exhorts the scholars "to intro- 
duce into the moral sciences the philosophy and the method of the 
natural sciences." 10 

The most seminal of his suggestions however occurs in his Sketch 
of a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind, the fa- 
mous Testament of the Eighteenth Century, as it has been called, in 
which the unbounded optimism of the age found its last and greatest 
expression. Tracing human progress in a great outline through all 
history, he conceives of a science which might foresee the future 
progress of the human race, accelerate and direct it. 11 But to estab- 
lish laws which will enable us to predict the future, history must 
cease to be a history of individuals and must become a history of the 
masses, must at the same time cease to be a record of individual facts 
but must become based on systematic observation. 12 Why should the 
attempt to base on the results of the history of the human race a 
picture of its future destiny be regarded as chimerical? "The only 
foundation for the knowledge of the natural sciences is the idea that 
the general laws, known or unknown, which regulate the phenomena 
of the Universe, are necessary and constant; and why should that 
principle be less true for the intellectual and moral faculties of man 
than for the other actions of nature?" 13 The idea of natural laws of 
historical development and the collectivist view of history were born, 
merely as bold suggestions, it is true, but to remain with us in a con- 
tinuous tradition to the present day. 14 

2. Condorcet himself became a victim of the Revolution. But his 
work guided to a large extent that same Revolution, particularly its 
educational reforms, and it was only as a result of these that towards 


the beginning of the new century the great institutionalized and cen- 
tralized organization of science arose which created one of the most 
glorious periods of scientific advance, became not only the birthplace 
of that scientism which is more particularly our concern but was 
probably also largely responsible for the relative decline of the po- 
sition of French science in the course of the century from indubitably 
the first place in the world to one not only behind Germany but also 
behind other nations. As is so often the case with similar movements, 
it was only on the second or third generation that the mischief was 
done by the pupils of the great men who exaggerated the ideas of 
their masters and misapplied them beyond their proper limits. 

In three respects the direct consequences of the Revolution are of 
special interest to us. In the first place, the very collapse of the ex- 
isting institutions called for immediate application of all the knowl- 
edge which appeared as the concrete manifestation of that Reason 
which was the Goddess of the Revolution. As one of the new scien- 
tific journals which sprang up at the end of the Terror expressed it: 
"The Revolution has razed everything to the ground. Government, 
morals, habits, everything has to be rebuilt. What a magnificent site 
for the architects! What a grand opportunity of making use of all the 
fine and excellent ideas that had remained speculative, of employing 
so many materials that could not be used before, of rejecting so 
many others that had been obstructions for centuries and which one 
had been forced to use." 15 

The second consequence of the Revolution which we must briefly 
consider is the complete destruction of the old and the creation of an 
entirely new educational system which had profound effects on the 
outlook and general views of the whole next generation. The third is 
more particularly the foundation of the Ecole Poly technique. 

The Revolution had swept away the old system of colleges and 
universit6s which was based largely on classical education, and after 
some short-lived experiments replaced them in 1795 by the new 
6coles centrales which became the sole centers of secondary educa- 
tion. 16 In conformity with the ruling spirit and by an over-violent re- 
action against the older schools, the teaching in the new institutions 
was for some years confined almost exclusively to the scientific sub- 
jects. Not only the ancient languages were reduced to a minimum 


and in practice almost entirely neglected, even the instruction in lit- 
erature, grammar, and history was very inferior, and moral and re- 
ligious instruction, of course, completely absent. 17 Although after 
some years a new reform endeavored to make good some of the 
gravest deficiences, 18 the interruption for a series of years of the in- 
struction in those subjects was sufficient to change the whole intel- 
lectual atmosphere. Saint-Simon described this change in 1812 or 
1813: "Such is the difference in this respect between the state of ... 
even thirty years ago and that of today that while in those not distant 
days, if one wanted to know whether a person had received a dis- 
tinguished education, one asked: "Does he know his Greek and 
Latin authors well?,' today one asks: *Is he good at mathematics? Is 
he familiar with the achievements of physics, of chemistry, of natural 
history, in short, of the positive sciences and those of observa- 
tion?' " 19 

Thus a whole generation grew up to whom that great storehouse 
of social wisdom, the only form indeed in which an understanding of 
the social processes achieved by the greatest minds is transmitted, 
the great literature of all ages, was a closed book. For the first time 
in history that new type appeared which as the product of the Ger- 
man Realschule and of similar institutions was to become so impor- 
tant and influential in the later nineteenth and the twentieth century: 
the technical specialist who was regarded as educated because he 
had passed through difficult schools but who had little or no knowl- 
edge of society, its life, growth, problems and its values, which only 
the study of history, literature and languages can give. 

3. Not only in secondary education but still more so in higher 
education the Revolutionary Convention had created a new type of 
institution which was to become permanently established and a 
model imitated by the whole world: the Ecole Poly technique. The 
wars of the Revolution and the help which some of the scientists had 
been able to render in the production of essential supplies 20 had led 
to a new appreciation of the need of trained engineers, in the first 
instance for military purposes. But industrial advance also created a 
new interest in machines. Scientific and technological progress created 
a widespread enthusiasm for technological studies, which expressed 


itself in the foundation of such societies as the Association philo- 
technique and the Societe poly technique. 21 Higher technical educa- 
tion had till then been confined to specialized schools such as the 
Ecole des Fonts et Chausses and the various military schools. It was 
at one of the latter that G. Monge, the founder of descriptive geom- 
etry, Minister of Marine during the Revolution and later friend of 
Napoleon, taught. He sponsored the idea of a single great school in 
which all classes of engineers should receive their training in the sub- 
jects they had in common. 22 He communicated that idea to Lazare 
Carnot, the "organizer of victory," his old pupil and himself no mean 
physicist and engineer. 23 These two men impressed their stamp on 
the new institution which was created in 1794. The new Ecole Poly- 
technique was (against the advice of Laplace 24 ) to be devoted 
mainly to the applied sciences in contrast to the Ecole Normale, 
created at the same time and devoted to theory and remained so 
during the first ten or twenty years of its existence. The whole teach- 
ing centered, to a much higher degree than is still true of similar in- 
stitutions, around Monge's subject, descriptive geometry, or the art 
of blue-print making, as we may call it to show its special significance 
for engineers. 25 First organized on essentially civilian lines, the 
School was later given a purely military organization by Napoleon 
who also, however much he favored it otherwise, resisted any attempt 
to liberalize its curriculum, and conceded even the provision of a 
course in so harmless a subject as literature only with reluctance. 26 

Yet in spite of the limitations as to the subjects taught, and the 
even more serious limitations of the previous education of the stu- 
dents in its early years, the Ecole commanded from the very begin- 
ning a teaching staff probably more illustrious than any other institu- 
tion in Europe has had before or since. Lagrange was among its first 
professors, and although Laplace was not a regular teacher there, he 
was connected with the school in many ways, including the office of 
chairman of its council. Monge, Fourier, Prony, and Poinsot were 
among the first generation of teachers of mathematical and physical 
subjects; Berthollet, who continued the work of Lavoisier, and sev- 
eral others hardly less distinguished, 27 taught chemistry. The second 
generation which began to take over early in the new century in- 


eluded such names as Poisson, Ampfere, Gay-Lussac, Th6nard, 
Arago, Cauchy, Fresnel, Malus, to mention only the best known, in- 
cidentally nearly all ex-students of the Ecole. The institution had 
only existed for a few years when it had become famous all over 
Europe, and the first interval of peace in 1801-2 brought Volta, 
Count Rumford and Alexander von Humboldt 28 on pilgrimage to 
the new temple of science. 

4. This is not the place to speak at length of the conquests of na- 
ture associated with these names. We are only concerned with the 
general spirit of exuberance which they engendered, with the feeling 
which they created that there were no limits to the powers of the 
human mind and to the extent to which man could hope to harness 
and control all the forces which so far had threatened and intimi- 
dated him. Nothing perhaps expresses more clearly this spirit than 
Laplace's bold idea of a world formula which he expressed in a fa- 
mous passage of his Essai philosophique sur les Probabilites: "A 
mind that in a given instance knew all the forces by which nature is 
animated and the position of all the bodies of which it is composed, 
if it were vast enough to include all these data within his analysis, 
could embrace in one single formula the movements of the largest 
bodies of the Universe and of the smallest atoms; nothing would be 
uncertain for him; the future and the past would be equally before 
his eyes." 29 This idea, which exercised so profound a fascination 30 
on generations of scientistically-minded people is, as is now becom- 
ing apparent, not only a conception which describes an unattainable 
ideal, but in fact a quite illegitimate deduction from the principles by 
which we establish laws for particular physical events. It is now itself 
regarded by modern positivists as a "metaphysical fiction." 31 

It has been well described how the whole of the teaching at the 
Ecole Polytechnique was penetrated with the positivist spirit of La- 
grange and all the courses and the textbooks used were modelled on 
his example. 82 Perhaps even more important, however, for the gen- 
eral outlook of the polytechnicians was the definite practical bent in- 
herent in all its teaching, the fact that all the sciences were taught 
mainly in their practical applications and that all the pupils looked 
forward to using their knowledge as military or civil engineers. The 


very type of the engineer with his characteristic outlook, ambitions, 
and limitations was here created. That synthetic spirit which would 
not recognize sense in anything that had not been deliberately con- 
structed, that love of organization that springs from the twin sources 
of military and engineering practices, 33 the aesthetic predilection for 
everything that had been consciously constructed over anything that 
had "just grown," was a strong new element which was added to 
and in the course of time even began to replace the revolutionary 
ardor of the young polytechnicians. The peculiar characteristics of 
this new type who, as it has been said, "prided themselves on having 
more precise and more satisfactory solutions than anyone else for all 
political, religious and social questions," 34 and who "ventured to 
create a religion as one learns at the Ecole to build a bridge or a 
road" 35 was early noticed, and their propensity to become socialists 
has often been pointed out. 36 Here we must confine ourselves to point 
out that it was in this atmosphere that Saint-Simon conceived some 
of the earliest and most fantastic plans for the reorganization of so- 
ciety, and that it was at the Ecole Polytechnique where, during the 
first twenty years of its existence, Auguste Comte, Prosper Enfantin, 
Victor Considerant and some hundreds of later Saint-Simonians and 
Fourierists received their training, followed by a succession of social 
reformers throughout the century down to Georges Sorel. 37 

But, whatever the tendencies among the pupils of the institution, 
it must again be pointed out that the great scientists who built the 
fame of the Ecole Polytechnique were not guilty of illegitimate ex- 
tensions of their technique and habits of thought to fields which were 
not their own. They little concerned themselves with problems of 
man and society. 38 This was the province of another group of men, 
in their time no less influential and admired, but whose efforts to 
continue the eighteenth century traditions in the social sciences were 
in the end to be swamped by the tide of scientism and silenced by 
political persecution. It was the misfortune of the ideologues, as they 
called themselves, that their very name should be perverted into a 
catchword describing the very opposite from what they stood for, 
and that their ideas should fall into the hands of the young engineers 
who distorted and changed them beyond recognition. 


5. It is a curious fact that the French scholars of the time of 
which we are speaking should have been divided into two "distinct 
societies which had only one single trait in common, the celebrity of 
their names." 39 The first were the professors and examiners at the 
Ecole Polytechnique which we already know and those at the College 
de France. The second was the group of physiologists, biologists and 
psychologists, mostly connected with the Ecole de Medecine and 
known as the Ideologues. 

Not all of the great biologists of which France could boast at the 
time belonged to this second group. At the College de France, Cu- 
vier, the founder of comparative anatomy and probably the most 
famous of them, stood close to the pure scientists. The advances of 
the biological sciences as expounded by him contributed perhaps as 
much as anything else to create the belief in the omnipotence of the 
methods of pure science. More and more problems that had seemed 
to evade the powers of exact treatment were shown to be conquera- 
ble by the same methods. 40 The two other biologists whose names 
are now even better known than his, Lamarck and Geoffroy St. 
Hilaire, remained at the periphery of the ideologist group and did 
not concern themselves much with the study of man as a thinking 
being. But Cabanis and Main de Biran, with their friends Destutt de 
Tracy and Degerando, made the latter the central problem of their 

Ideology, 41 in the sense in which the term was used by that group, 
meant simply the analysis of human ideas and of human action, in- 
cluding the relation between man's physical and mental constitu- 
tion. 42 43 The inspiration of the group came mainly from Condillac 
and the field of their studies was outlined by Cabanis, one of the 
founders of physiological psychology, in his Rapports du physique et 
du moral de Vhomme (1802). And although there was much talk 
among them about applying the methods of natural science to man, 
this meant no more than that they proposed to study man without 
prejudices and without nebulous speculations about his end and des- 
tiny. But this prevented neither Cabanis nor his friends from devoting 
a large part of their life work to that analysis of human ideas which 
gave ideology its name. Nor did it occur to them to doubt the legiti- 
macy of introspection. If the second head of the group, Destutt de 


Tracy, proposed to regard the whole of ideology as part of zoology, 44 
this did not preclude his confining himself entirely to that part of it 
which he called ideologic rationelle, in contrast to the ideologic 
physiologique, and which consisted of logic, grammar and eco- 
nomics. 45 

It cannot be denied that in all this, out of their enthusiasm for the 
pure sciences, they used many misleading expressions which were 
grossly misunderstood by Saint-Simon and Comte. Cabanis in par- 
ticular stressed repeatedly that physics must be the basis of the moral 
sciences; 4C but with him too this meant no more than that account 
must be taken of the physiological bases of mental activities, and he 
always recognized the three seperate parts of the "science de 
rhomme," physiology, analysis of ideas, and morals. 47 But, in so far 
as the problems of society are concerned, while Cabanis' work re- 
mained mainly programatic in character, Destutt de Tracy made 
very important contributions. We need mention here only one: his 
analysis of value and its relation to utility, where, proceeding from 
the foundations laid by Condillac, he went very far in providing what 
classical English political economy lacked and what might have saved 
it from the impasse into which it got a correct theory of value. 
Destutt de Tracy (and Louis Say, who later continued his work) 
may indeed be said to have anticipated by more than half a century 
what was to become one of the most important advances of social 
theory, the subjective (or marginal utility) theory of value. 48 

It is true that others outside their circle went much further in the 
application of the technique of the natural sciences to social phe- 
nomena, particularly the Societe des Observateurs de VHomme, 
which, largely under Cuvier's influence, went some way in confining 
social study to a mere recording of observations reminiscent of simi- 
lar organizations of our own day. 49 But on the whole there can be 
no doubt that the ideologues preserved the best tradition of the eight- 
eenth century philosophes. And while their colleagues at the Ecole 
Polytechnique became the admirers and friends of Napoleon and re- 
cieved from him all possible support, the ideologues remained 
staunch defenders of individual freedom and consequently incurred 
the wrath of the despot. 


6. It was Napoleon who gave currency to the word ideologue in 
its new sense by using it as a favorite expression of contempt for all 
those who ventured to defend freedom against him. 50 And he did not 
content himself with abuse. The man who understood better than any 
of his imitators that "in the long run the sword is always beaten by 
the spirit" did not hesitate to carry his "repugnance for all discussion 
and the teaching of political matters" 51 into practice. The economist 
J. B. Say, a member of the ideologist group and for some years edi- 
tor of its journal, the Decade philosophique, was one of the first to 
feel the strong hand. When he refused to change a chapter in his 
Traite d'economie politique to suit the wishes of the dictator, the sec- 
ond edition was prohibited and the author removed from the tribu- 
nat* 2 In 1806 Destutt de Tracy had to appeal to President Jefferson 
to secure the publication of at least an English translation of his 
Commentaire sur I'Esprit des lots which he was not allowed to pub- 
lish in his own country. 53 A little earlier (1803) the whole of the 
second class of the Institut, that of the moral and political science, 
had been suppressed. 54 In consequence, these subjects remained ex- 
cluded from the great Tableau de I'etat et des progres des sciences et 
des arts depuis 1789 which the three classes of the Institut had been 
ordered to furnish in 1802. This was symbolic of the whole position 
of these subjects under the Empire. The teaching of them was pre- 
vented and the whole younger generation grew up in ignorance of the 
achievements of the past. The door was thus opened to a new start 
unencumbered by the accumulated results of earlier study. Social 
problems were to be approached from a new angle. The methods, 
which since d'Alembert had so successfully been used in physics, 
whose character had now become explicit, and which more recently 
had been equally successful in chemistry and biology, were now to 
be applied to the science of man. With what results we shall gradu- 
ally see. 



1. Early training and experience can hardly be said to have 
qualified the count Henri de Saint-Simon for the role of a scientific 
reformer. But it must be admitted that when in 1798, at the age of 
38, 55 he took up his abode opposite the Ecole Poly technique, hence- 
forth to interpret 'to the world the significance of scientific progress 
for the study of society, he was already a man of rich and varied ex- 
perience; but scientific study had scarcely been included. The facts 
of his earlier life, only quite recently brought to light, 56 are consid- 
erably less elevating than the numerous anecdotes which he himself 
and his pupils have transmitted to us and which until lately formed 
almost our sole information about his youth. The legends tell us that 
he descended from Charlemagne, that d'Alembert supervised his edu- 
cation, and that his valet had orders to wake the ambitious young 
man daily with the words: Levez-vous, Monsieur le Comte, vous 
avez de grandes choses d, faire. All this is not altogether impossible. 
It is certain, however, that for the first twenty years of his adult life 
he lived the life of an adventurer, as many sons of aristocratic fami- 
lies must have done during the period, but on a scale and with an 
intensity that can have been equalled by few of his contemporaries. 
Almost as soon as he obtained a commission in the French Army 
he followed Lafayette to America and when, after four years, fighting 
ceased, he bade farewell to his profession. Even before this we find 
him dreaming of piercing the Isthmus of Panama. A little later he 
offered his services in Holland for an expedition against the British 
Indies and was also concerned more concretely with projects for 
building canals in Spain. The Revolution found him back in Paris, 



as the citoyen Bonhomme, forswearing his title and acting the ex- 
treme Sansculotte. But soon more profitable ventures offered them- 
selves. In the sale of the church lands we find him as one of the most 
active intermediaries, speculating with borrowed money on a colos- 
sal scale, one of the great profiteers of inflation, who did not scorn 
any business that came his way, such as an attempted sale of the 
lead from the roofs of Notre Dame. It is not surprising to find him in 
prison during the terror. It was during the time he spent there that 
according to his own account he decided on the career of a philoso- 
pher. But, released, he once more preferred financial to metaphysical 
speculation. So long as the source of his funds (a Saxon diplomatist) 
continued to provide him with sufficient capital, he tried his hand at 
all sorts of commercial ventures, such as organizing a stage coach 
service, selling wine retail, manufacturing textiles and even "repub- 
lican" playing cards in which the obnoxious kings and queens were 
replaced by le genie and la liberte. His plans were even more ambi- 
tious. He seems to have begun the construction of some large indus- 
trial plant and he at least contemplated a combined commercial 
and banking enterprise that "should be unique in the world." He also 
acted as spokesman for French financial interests at the Anglo- 
French discussions at Lille in 1797. 

All these activities, however, came to a sudden end when in 1798 
his partner returned to Paris and asked to be shown the accounts. 
Saint-Simon certainly knew what high living meant, and his house, run 
by the former maitre d'hotel of the Due de Choiseul, and his kitchen, 
presided over by an equally reputed chef, were famous. But that all 
the costs of this should have gone down as expenses on the 
joint account rather upset the good Saxon count. He withdrew his 
funds, and Saint-Simon, still in possession of a fortune, substantial 
but no longer adequate to support further grandiose ventures, found 
it advisable to withdraw from commercial activity and henceforth to 
seek glory in the intellectual sphere. 

We need not doubt that in the mind of the disappointed faiseur 
vague plans for the reorganization of society were already forming; 
and it is not surprising that he should soon find that all his experi- 
ences had not provided him with the knowledge which would enable 
him to elaborate these ideas. He therefore decided "to employ his 


money to acquire scientific knowledge." 57 It was at this time that he 
spent three years in close contact with the teachers and students of 
the Ecole Poly technique as a kind of Maecenas-pupil, feasting the 
professors and assisting the students, one of whom, the great mathe- 
matician Poisson, he entirely supported for years and treated as his 
adopted son. 

The method of study which Saint-Simon chose for himself was not 
of the ordinary. Feeling that his brain was no longer elastic enough 
to pursue a systematic course, he preferred to learn what he could 
in the more pleasant form of dinner-table conversation. He asked the 
scholars from whose knowledge he hoped to profit to his house, and 
appears even to have married for the sole purpose of keeping a house 
where he could properly entertain the great savants. Lagrange, 
Monge, Berthollet, and, probably after 1801, when he felt he had 
completed his education in the mechanical sciences and moved to 
the neighborhood of the Ecole de Medecine, Gall, Cabanis, and Bi- 
chat, are reported to have partaken of his hospitality. Yet this method 
of study seems to have proved to be of questionable value. At any 
rate in later life our hero complained to a friend that his "scholars 
and artists ate much but talked little. After dinner I went to sit in an 
easy chair in a corner of the salon and fell asleep. Fortunately 
Madame de Saint-Simon did the honneurs with much grace and 
esprit." 58 

Whether it was merely that he became aware that this had been a 
bad investment and decided to cut the losses, or whether it was that 
another marriage appeared to him a more attractive method of in- 
struction, yet not only the dinners but also the marriage came to an 
end soon after he had moved to the new place. He explained to his 
wife that "the first man of the world ought to be married to the first 
woman" and that, therefore, with much regret he had to ask her to be 
released. Was it an accident that the divorce was effected in the 
month after Madame de Stael had become a widow, the Madame de 
Stael who, in a book that had fired Saint-Simon's imagination, had 
only just celebrated the "positive sciences" and emphasized that the 
"science of politics was yet to be created?" 59 It is alleged that as 
soon as he was free he hurried to Le Coppet on the Lake of Geneva 
and proposed in the following words: "Madame, you are the most 


extraordinary woman on earth and I am the most extraordinary man; 
together we shall undoubtedly produce a still more extraordinary 
child." Legend adds that he also proposed that they should celebrate 
their nuptials in a balloon. About the terms in which the refusal was 
couched the versions vary. 

2. The visit to Switzerland was also the occasion of Saint-Simon's 
first publication. In 1803 there appeared in Geneva the Lettres d'un 
habitant de Geneve 4 ses contemporains, QO a little tract in which the 
Voltairean cult of Newton was revived in a fantastically exaggerated 
form. It begins by proposing that a subscription should be opened 
before the tomb of Newton to finance the project of a great "Council 
of Newton" for which each subscriber is to have the right of nomi- 
nating three mathematicians, three physicists, three chemists, three 
physiologists, three litterateurs, three painters and three musicians. 61 
The twenty-one scholars and artists thus elected by the whole of 
mankind, and presided over by the mathematician who received the 
largest number of votes, 62 should become in their collective capacity 
the representatives of God on earth, 63 who would deprive the Pope, the 
cardinals, bishops and the priests of their office because they do not 
understand the divine science which God has entrusted to them and 
which some day will again turn earth into paradise. 64 In the divisions 
and sections into which the supreme Council of Newton will divide 
the world, similar local Councils of Newton will be created which 
will have to organize worship, research and instruction in and 
around the temples of Newton which will be built everywhere. 65 

Why this new "social organization," as Saint-Simon calls it for the 
first time in an unpublished manuscript of the same period? 66 Be- 
cause we are still governed by people who do not understand the gen- 
eral laws that rule the universe. "It is necessary that the physiolo- 
gists chase from their company the philosophers, moralists and 
metaphysicians just as the astronomers have chased out the astrolo- 
gers and the chemists have chased out the alchemists." 67 The physi- 
ologists are competent in the first instance because "we are organized 
bodies; and it is by regarding our social relationships as physiological 
phenomena that I have conceived the project which I present to 
you." 68 


But the physiologists themselves are not yet quite scientific enough. 
They have yet to discover how their science can reach the perfection 
of astronomy by basing itself on the single law to which God has sub- 
jected the universe, the law of universal gravitation. 69 It will be the 
task of the Council of Newton by exercising its spiritual power to 
make people understand this law. Its tasks, however, go far beyond 
that. It will not only have to vindicate the rights of the men of ge- 
nius, the scientists, the artists and all the people with liberal views; 70 
it will also have to reconcile the second class of people, the propri- 
etors, and the third, the people without property, to whom Saint- 
Simon addresses himself specially as his friends and whom he ex- 
horts to accept this proposal which is the only way to prevent that 
"struggle which, from the nature of things, necessarily always exists 
between" the two classes. 71 

All this is revealed to Saint-Simon by the Lord himself, who an- 
nounces to His prophet that He has placed Newton at His side and 
entrusted him with the enlightenment of the inhabitants of all planets. 
The instruction culminates in the famous passage from which much 
of later Saint-Simonian doctrine springs: "All men will work; they 
will regard themselves as laborers attached to one workshop whose 
efforts will be directed to guide human intelligence according to my 
divine foresight. The supreme Council of Newton will direct their 
works." 72 Saint-Simon has no qualms about the means that will be 
employed to enforce the instructions of his central planning body: 
"Anybody who does not obey the orders will be treated by the others 
as a quadruped." 73 

In condensing we had to try and bring some order into the inco- 
herent and rambling jumble of ideas which this first pamphlet of 
Saint-Simon represents. It is the outpouring of a megalomaniac vi- 
sionary who sprouts half-digested ideas, who all the time is trying to 
attract the attention of the world to his unappreciated genius and to 
the necessity of financing his works, and who does not forget to pro- 
vide for himself as the founder of the new religion great power and 
the chairmanship of all the Councils for life. 74 

3. Soon after the publication of this first work, Saint-Simon found 
that his funds were entirely exhausted and the next few years he 


spent in increasing misery, importuning his old friends and associates 
with demands for money and, it appears, not stopping short of black- 
mail. Even his appeals to now powerful friends of the past, such as 
the Comte de Segur, Napoleon's grand maitre des ceremonies, pro- 
cured him in the end no more than the miserable and humiliating 
position of copyist in a pawnbroking institution. After six months of 
this, weakened and ill, he met his former valet, who took him into 
his house. For four years (1806-1810) until his death that devoted 
servant provided for all the needs of his ex-master and even defrayed 
the cost of printing Saint-Simon's next work. 

It seems that during this period Saint-Simon read more extensively 
than ever before; at least the Introduction aux travaux scientifiques 
du XIX 6 siecle 75 shows a wide although still very superficial and ill- 
digested knowledge of the scientific literature of the period. The main 
theme is still the same, but the methods proposed have somewhat 
changed. Before science can organize society, science itself must be 
organized. 76 The Council of Newton therefore now becomes the edi- 
torial committee of a great new Encyclopaedia which is to systematize 
and unify all knowledge: "We must examine and co-ordinate it all 
from the point of view of Physicism." 77 This physicism is not merely 
a new general scientific method; it is to be a new religion, even if at 
first only for the educated classes. 78 It is to be the third great stage in 
the evolution of religion from Polytheism through "Deism" 79 to 
Physicism. But although the growth of Physicism has now been under 
way for eleven hundred years, 80 the victory is not yet complete. The 
reason is that the work of the past, particularly that of the French 
Encyclopedists, was merely critical and destructive. 81 It is for the 
great Emperor Napoleon, "the scientific chief of humanity as he is its 
political chief," "the most positive man of the age," to organize the 
scientific system in a new encyclopedia worthy of his name. 82 Under 
his direction the "physicist clergy" in the atelier scientifique will 
create a work that will organize physicism and found, on reasoning 
and observation, the principles which for ever will serve as guides 
to humanity. 83 The greatest man after the Emperor, and that is "un- 
doubtedly the man who admires him most profoundly," offers him- 
self for the task as his "scientific lieutenant, as a second Descartes, 


under whose leadership the works of the new school will be pro- 
digious." 8 * 

It need hardly be said that this work is no more systematic than 
the first. After a vain attempt at coherent exposition it soon be- 
comes admittedly a collection of disjointed notes from Saint-Simon's 
portefeuille. He abandoned the ambitious plan outlined at the be- 
ginning, as he himself explains in the sketch of his autobiography, 
because of lack of funds, or as he admits elsewhere, because he was 
not yet ripe for the task. 85 Yet, with all its defects, the work is a 
remarkable document. It combines, for the first time, nearly all the 
characteristics of the modern scientistic organizer. The enthusiasm 
for physicism (it is now called physicalism) and the use of "physical 
language," 86 the attempt to "unify science" and to make it the basis 
of morals, the contempt for all "theological," that is anthropomor- 
phic, reasoning, 87 the desire to organize the work of others, partic- 
ularly by editing a great encyclopedia, and the wish to plan life in 
general on scientific lines are all present. One could sometimes be- 
lieve that one is reading a contemporary work of an H. G. Wells, a 
Lewis Mumford, or an Otto Neurath. Nor is the complaint missing 
about the intellectual crisis, the moral chaos, which must be over- 
come by the imposition of a new scientific creed. The book is indeed, 
more than the Lettres d'un habitant de Geneve, the first and most 
important document of that "counter-revolution of science," as their 
fellow-reactionary Bonald called the movement, 88 which later found 
more open expression in Saint-Simon's avowed desire to "terminate 
the revolution" by conscious re-organization of society. It is the be- 
ginning of both modern positivism and modern socialism, which, thus, 
both began as definitely reactionary and authoritarian movements. 

The Introduction, addressed to his fellow scientists, was not pub- 
lished but merely printed in a small number of copies for distribution 
among the members of the Institut. But although the great scientists 
to whom he sent it took no notice, he continued to appeal to them 
for assistance in a number of smaller tracts of a similar character. We 
can pass over the various minor writings of the next few years, which 
were mainly concerned with the project of an encyclopedia; during 
this time we find, gradually added to the megalomania of the prophet, 
the characteristic persecution mania of the verkannte Genie which ex- 


pressed itself in violent abuse of the formerly so admired Laplace, 
whom he suspected of being responsible for his neglect. 89 

4. There are no further important developments in Saint-Simon's 
writings till 1813. Once more plunged into abject poverty by the 
death of his faithful valet, he starved and in the end fell dangerously 
ill. He was rescued by an old acquaintance, a notaire, who negotiated 
a settlement with his family under which, in return for giving up all 
expectations of future inheritance, he received a small annual pen- 
sion. Once again settled in tolerable comfort, his work entered a new 
phase. Finally disillusioned in his hope of obtaining the collaboration 
of the physicists, he turned away from the brutiers, infinitesimaux, 
algebristes et arithmeticiens whom he no longer conceded the right 
to regard themselves as the scientific advance guard of humanity, and 
taking up the second strand of though from his first work, he turned 
again to the biologists. 

In his Memoire sur la science de Vhomme (part of which, how- 
ever, still bears the separate title Travail sur la gravitation univer- 
selle), his problem is again how physiology, of which the science 
of man is a part, can be treated by the methods adopted by the phys- 
ical sciences 91 and thus follow those sciences in the progress from 
the "conjectural" to the "positive" stage. 92 With the science of man, 
as part and summit of physiology, morals and politics must also be- 
come positive sciences, 93 and thus "the passage from the idea of 
many particular laws regulating the phenomena of the divers branches 
of physics to the idea of a single and unique law regulating them 
all" must become completed. 94 When this is achieved and all the par- 
ticular sciences have become positive, the general science, i.e., phi- 
losophy, will also become positive. 95 It will then at last be able to 
become the new spiritual power, which must remain separate from 
the temporal power, since this is a division incapable of improve- 
ment. 96 With this organization of the "positive system" we shall have 
definitely entered into the third great epoch of human history of 
which the first, or preliminary, was ended with Socrates while the 
second or conjectural has lasted to the present. 97 

This development of ideas which we can observe enables us to 
predict their future movement. 98 Since "the cause which acts strong- 


est on society is a change, a perfectioning of the ideas, the general 
beliefs," " we can do even more, we can develop a theory of history, 
a general history of mankind, which will deal not merely with the 
past and present but also with the future. Such an abridged history 
of the past, future and present of the human mind Saint-Simon pro- 
posed in the programme for the third memoir on the science of man. 
It is "the happiest idea which has ever presented itself to his mind" 
and he is "enchanted by the conception," 10 but for the moment he 
develops it no further. As with most of his works before 1814, the 
idea remained a promise of future things to come, a prospectus of 
work he would like to do, but the Memoire itself is still an unorgan- 
ized mass full of irrelevant detail and bizarre conceits from which one 
can extract the fertile ideas only because one knows their later de- 

5. All this changed suddenly with Saint-Simon's next work, the 
Reorganization de la societe europeenne, 101 published in 1814. From 
that date onwards there issued under his name a stream of books 
and pamphlets in which ideas were systematically expounded and 
which sometimes were even well written. It is true that after a new 
period of abject misery, during which he underwent a cure in what 
looks suspiciously like a mental home, he was enabled to make a new 
start. But the man of fifty-five was hardly likely to have suddenly 
acquired the gift of lucid exposition. It is difficult to resist the belief 
that the change had something to do with the fact that from that 
date onwards he was able to secure the help of young collaborators 
and that the influence of these young men went beyond matters of 
mere exposition. 

The first of these young helpers, who even appeared on the title 
page of the Reorganization as his co-author and pupil, was the future 
historian Augustin Thierry, then 19 years of age the same Thierry 
who was later to become the leader of the new schools of historians 
who developed history as a history of the masses and of a struggle 
of class interests and, in this, profoundly influencced Karl Marx. 102 

The pamphlet on which he first collaborated with Saint-Simon 
is not of great interest to us, although it has achieved a certain 
celebrity for its advocacy of an Anglo-French Federation which, 


after the adherence of Germany, was to develop into a sort of Euro- 
pean Federation with a common parliament. The fall of the French 
Empire and the negotiations going on at Vienna made Saint-Simon 
then apply his dominant idea of a reorganization of society to the 
whole of Europe; but in the execution of the idea there was little of 
the old Saint-Simon, except for occasional flights of fancy of which 
the phrase "the golden age that is not behind us but in front of us 
and that will be realized by the perfection of the social order" has 
by its later use as a motto by the Saint-Simonians become widely 
known. 103 

The collaboration of Saint-Simon and Thierry lasted about two 
years. During the hundred days, they wrote first against Napoleon 
and then against the Allies. The great Carnot, always one of Saint- 
Simon's admirers and then temporarily returned to power, procured 
for Saint-Simon a sub-librarianship at the Arsenal, equally tem- 
porary. 104 After Waterloo he fell for a brief period back into pov- 
erty. But he had now young friends among the new generation of 
bankers and industrialists whose fortunes were rising, and it was to 
them that he attached himself. The enthusiasm for industry was 
henceforth to replace the enthusiasm for science; or, at least, as the 
old love was not quite forgotten, he found a new force worthy to 
exercise the temporal power at the side of science which was to wield 
the spiritual power. And he found that the praise of industry was 
better rewarded than the appeals to the scientists or the adulation of 
the Emperor. Lafitte, governor of the Banque de France, was the 
first to help. He procured for Saint-Simon the considerable sum of 
10,000 francs per month, to start a new journal to be called I' Indus- 
trie littiraire et scientifique ligu avec Vindustrie commerciale et 
manufacturer e. 

Around the new editor a number of young men collected, and he 
began his career as the head of a school. At first the group consisted 
largely of artists, bankers, and industrialists among them some very 
distinguished and influential men. There was even an economist 
among the contributors to the first volume of I'lndustrie, St. Aubin, 
although one whom J. B. Say unkindly described as the "clown of 
political economy." He and Thierry appeared as the authors of the 
discussions of Finance and Politics which filled the first volume of 


I' Industrie. To the second volume, which appeared in 1817 under a 
slightly changed title, 105 Saint-Simon himself contributed some con- 
siderations on the relations between France and America. 

This essay is on the whole in the spirit of the liberal group for 
whom Saint-Simon was then writing. 106 "The sole purpose towards 
which all our thoughts and all our efforts ought to be directed, the 
organization of society most favourable to industry in the widest 
sense of the term" is still best achieved by a political power which 
does nothing except to see that "the workers are not disturbed" and 
which arranges everything in such a way that all workers, whose 
combined force forms the true society, are able to exchange directly, 
and in complete freedom, the products of their various labors. 107 
But his attempt to base all politics on economic considerations as he 
understands them, that is in fact on technological considerations, 
began soon to lead him outside the views of his liberal friends. We 
need only quote two of the "most general and most important truths" 
to which his considerations lead: "1st The production of useful 
things is the only reasonable and positive end which politics can set 
itself and the principle respect for production and the producers is 
infinitely more fruitful than the principle respect for property and the 
proprietors," and "7th. As the whole of mankind has a common pur- 
pose and common interests each man ought to regard himself in his 
social relations as engaged in a company of workers." "Politics, 
therefore, to sum up in two words, is the science of production, that 
is, the science which has for its object the order of things most 
favorable to all sorts of production." 108 We are back at the ideas of 
the Habitant de Geneve and at the same time at the end of what 
can be regarded as the independent development of Saint-Simon's 

The beginning defection of liberalism soon cost Saint-Simon his 
first assistant. "I cannot conceive of association without government 
of someone" are reported to have been Saint-Simon's words in the 
final quarrel, to which Thierry replied that he "could not conceive of 
association without liberty." 109 Soon this desertion by his assistant 
was to be followed by a mass flight of his liberal friends. But this 
came only after a new assistant of great intellectual force began to 
push Saint-Simon further along the road which he had only indi- 


cated but had not had the power to follow. In the summer of 1817 
the young polytechnician Auguste Comte, the first and greatest of the 
host of engineers who were to recognize Saint-Simon as their master, 
joined him as secretary. Henceforth, to the death of Saint-Simon eight 
years later, the intellectual history of the two men is indissolubly 
fused. As we shall see in the next section, much of what is commonly 
regarded as Saint-Simonian doctrine, and what through the Saint- 
Simonians exercised a profound influence before Comte's public 
career as a philosopher began, was due to Auguste Comte. 



1. MORE SURPRISING than anything else in Saint-Simon's career 
is the great fascination which towards the end of his life he exercised 
on younger men, some of them intellectually his superiors, who yet 
for years were satisfied to devil for him, to recognize him as their 
leader and to bring coherence and order into the thoughts thrown 
out by him, and whose whole intellectual careers were determind by 
his influence. Of no one is this more true than of Auguste Comte, 
whatever in later life he may have said about "the unfortunate per- 
sonal influence that overshadowed my earliest efforts" or the "de- 
praved juggler," as whom he had come to regard Saint-Simon. 110 

It is a vain attempt to distinguish precisely what part of the work 
of the period of seven years during which they collaborated is Saint- 
Simon's and what is Comte's particularly as it seems likely that in 
conversation Saint-Simon was much more stimulating and inspiring 
than in his writings. Yet so much confusion has been caused about 
the actual relationships by some historians constantly attributing to 
Saint-Simon thoughts which occur first in works which appeared 
under his name but are known to have been written by Comte, while 
others have tried to vindicate Comte's complete independence of 
thought, that we must exercise some care about what in itself may 
not be a matter of great consequence. 

Auguste Comte was nineteen years of age when in August, 1817, 
Saint-Simon offered him the position of secretary. The young man 
had little more than a year before been sent down from the Ecole 
poly technique, after a brilliant career and just before the final ex- 
amination, as the ring-leader in an insubordination. Since then he 
had earned his living as a mathematical coach, at the same time pre- 


paring himself for an appointment in America which did not ma- 
terialize, and had translated a textbook on geometry from the Eng- 
lish. During the same period he had steeped himself in the writings 
of Lagrange and Monge, of Montesquieu and Condorcet, and more 
recently had taken some interest in political economy. 

This seems to have been the qualification on which Saint-Simon, 
anxious to develop his "science of production," engaged him to write 
the further parts of L 'Industrie. 111 In any case, the new disciple was 
able to write in the three months or so during which he remained 
Saint-Simon's paid secretary the whole of the four parts of the third 
and the first and only part of the fourth volume of that publica- 
tion. 112 

On the whole his contribution is merely a development of the doc- 
trines of his new master which the disciple pushes somewhat further 
to their logical conclusions. The third volume is largely devoted to 
problems of the philosophy of history, the gradual transition from 
polytheism to the positive era, from the absolute monarchy through 
the transitory stage of the parliamentary liberal state to the new posi- 
tive organization, and, above all, from the old "celestial" to the new 
terrestrial and positive morals. 113 Only now are we able to watch 
these transitions because we have learned to understand the laws to 
which they are subject. 114 All the institutions existing at any time, 
being an application of the ruling social philosophy, have their rela- 
tive justification. 115 And anticipating one of the main features of his 
later philosophy, Comte sums up in the only sentence of this early 
work which he would later acknowledge: "There is nothing good and 
nothing bad absolutely speaking; everything is relative, this is the 
only absolute statement." 116 

No less alarming to Saint-Simon's supporters than the praise of 
"terrestrial morals" were the "Views on property and legislation" 
contained in volume four of L'Industrie. Although in general still 
mainly utilitarian (and consciously Benthamite 117 ) in its insistence 
on the variability of the contents of property rights and the need to 
adapt them to the conditions of the time, 118 it strikes a new note in 
emphasizing that, while parliamentary government is merely a form, 
it is the constitution of property which is the fundamental thing, 
and that it is therefore "this Constitution which is the real basis of the 


social edifice" lld implying that with the revision of the law of prop- 
erty the whole social order can be changed. 120 

The third volume of L' Industrie was hardly completed when most 
of its liberal supporters withdrew from it after a public protest 
against the incursion of the journal into a field outside its professed 
program and against its advocacy of principles "which were de- 
structive of all social order and incompatible with liberty." 121 Al- 
though Saint-Simon attempted a lame apology in the introduction of 
the fourth volume and promised to return to the original plan, the 
first issue of the new volume was also the last. The funds were ex- 
hausted and L'Industrie, and with it Comte's paid position, came to 
an end. 

2. Comte continued, however, to collaborate with Saint-Simon in 
the various journalistic enterprises which the latter undertook dur- 
ing the next few years. His enthusiasm for his master was still un- 
diminished. Saint-Simon is "the most excellent man he knows," the 
"most estimable and lovable of men," to whom he has sworn eternal 
friendship. 122 At the next attempt at a journalistic enterprise, the 
Politique, COmte becomes a partner and shareholder with Saint- 
Simon. 123 It is just one of the numerous liberal journals which in 
these years sprung up and died like mushrooms; but even its strongly 
liberal views, the advocacy by Comte of economy and the freedom 
of the press, did not secure it a life of more than five months. But 
three months after its death, in September, 1819, Saint-Simon, again 
with Comte's support, started another and more characteristic or- 
gan, 124 which contains perhaps the most remarkable of Saint-Simon's 
writings, the Organisateur, whose very name was a program. It 
was certainly the first of his publications which attracted wide atten- 
tion inside and outside France and which made him generally known 
as a social reformer. 

This is probably due more than anything else to the prosecution 
which he drew on himself by the celebrated Parable with which the 
new publication opens. In it Saint-Simon first shows that if France 
were suddenly deprived of the fifty chief scientists in each field, of 
the fifty chief engineers, artists, poets, industrialists, bankers and 
artisans of various kinds, her very life and civilization would be de- 


stroyed. He then contrasts this with the case of a similar misfortune 
befalling a corresponding number of persons of the aristocracy, of 
dignitaries of state, of courties and of members of the high clergy, 
and points out how little difference this would really make to the 
prosperity of France. 125 But although the best known, the parable is 
by no means the most interesting part of the Organisateur. To do 
justice to its title, he presents for the first time in a series of letters 
a real plan for the reorganization of society, or at least a plan 
for a reorganization of the political system which would give 
all social activity the scientific direction which it needs. 120 While 
his starting-point is now the English parliamentary system, which is 
the best system yet invented, his problem is how this system can be 
transformed into something resembling his Council of Newton of 
sixteen years before. The direction must be placed in the hands of 
the "industrialists," 127 that is, all those who do productive work. 
They are to be organized in three separate bodies. The first, the 
chambre d' invention, 128 is to consist of 200 engineers and 100 
"artists" (poets, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and musi- 
cians) and would have to draw up the plans for public undertakings. 
The chambre d' examination, consisting of 100 each of biologists, 
physicists and mathematicians, would have to scrutinize and approve 
these plans. The chambre d'execution, consisting entirely of the 
richest and most successful entrepreneurs, would watch over the ex- 
ecution of these works. Among the first tasks of the new parliament 
would be the reconstitution of the law of property, which "must be 
founded on a basis most favorable to production." 129 

The new system will come not only because its inherent advan- 
tages will be generally recognized, but, even more important, be- 
cause it is the necessary outcome of the course which the advance 
of civilization has taken during the last seven hundred years. 130 This 
proves that his plan is not a Utopia m but the result of the scientific 
treatment of history, of a true history of the whole of civilization, as 
Condorcet conceived it, which will enable us to continue on the pre- 
destined route with open eyes. 132 

As an "example of how industry ought to be conceived" 133 Saint- 
Simon then inserts two letters (the 8th and 9th) which, as we now 
know, were written by Comte, who later republished them under his 


own name. 184 The most important parts of these are the brief pas- 
sages elucidating Saint-Simon's suggestion that the rise of the new 
system is the necessary result of the law of progress: "At no period 
has the progress of society been regulated by a system conceived 
by a man of genius and adopted by the masses. This would, from 
the nature of things, be impossible, for the law of human progress 
guides and dominates all; men are only its instruments." Therefore, 
"all we can do is consciously to obey this law, which constitutes our 
true providence, ascertaining the course it marks out for us, instead 
of being blindly impelled by it. Here in truth lies the goal of the 
grand philosophic revolution for our own times." 135 For the rest, and 
although Comte's contribution still contains few ideas which cannot 
be found in Saint-Simon's earlier work, these are now presented with 
a terseness and force of which the latter was never capable. We find 
now even more stress placed on the need for the "scientific and posi- 
tive capacity" to replace the old spiritual power, 136 the same exposi- 
tion of the successive advances of science towards the positive stage 
till at last philosophy, morals and politics also reach it and thereby 
make the new scientifically directed social system possible, 137 and the 
same impatience with the freedom of thought which is the denial of a 
spiritual power. 138 New is the special emphasis on the role of the new 
"class which occupies an intermediate position between the men of 
science, the artists, and the artisans, that of Engineers," which sym- 
bolizes the new union between the spiritual and temporal capacities; 
a union which "prepares the way for this joint direction of soci- 
ety." 13d Under their direction the whole of society will be organized 
to "act upon nature" as it is now organized in its separate parts. 140 In 
this joint enterprise the people will no longer be subjects but associ- 
ates or partners, 141 and for the first time we find the suggestion that 
there will then no longer be any need of "government" but merely 
of "administration." 142 

To Comte's contribution Saint-Simon merely added at the end of 
the second letter a characteristic appeal to the scientists and in 
particular to the artists, who, as the true "engineers of the soul" as 
Lenin later described them, are to use all the forces of imagination 
"to exercise on the common mass sufficient action to determine them 
to follow irrevocably in the direction indicated and to assist their 


natural leaders in that great co-operation" a first indication of the 
later Saint-Simonian theories about the social function of art. 143 

In the further description of the working of his new organization, 
Saint-Simon rises to an eloquence unknown to him before. "In the 
new political order the social organization will have for its sole and 
permanent purpose the best possible use for the satisfaction of human 
needs of all the knowledge acquired in the sciences, the fine arts, and 
industry" 144 and the increase of that knowledge. He does not stop 
to describe in detail "the astonishing degree of prosperity to which 
society can aspire with such an organization." 145 While, so far, men 
have applied to nature only their isolated forces and even mutually 
counteracted their efforts in consequence of the division of mankind 
into unequal parts of which the smaller has always used all its 
power to dominate the other, men will cease to command each other 
and will organize to apply to nature their combined efforts. All that 
is required is that in the place of the vague ends which our social sys- 
tem now serves a positive social purpose should be decided upon: 

"In a society which is organised for the positive purpose of increasing 
its prosperity by means of science, art, and craftsmanship, the most im- 
portant political act, that of determining the direction in which the com- 
munity is to move, is no longer performed by men invested with social 
functions but by the body politic itself; ... the aim and purpose of such 
an organisation are so clear and determined that there is no longer any 
room for arbitrariness of men or even of laws, because both can exist only 
in the vague, which is, so to speak, their natural, element. The actions of 
government that consist in commands will be reduced to nil or practically 
nil. All the questions that will have to be solved in such a political system, 
namely: By what enterprises can the community increase its present pros- 
perity, making use of a given knowledge in science, in art, and in industry? 
By what measures can such knowledge be dispersed and brought to the 
furthest possible perfection? And finally by what means can these enter- 
prises be carried out at a minimum cost and in minimum time? all these 
questions, I contend, and all those to which they can give rise, are emi- 
nently positive and soluble. The decisions must be the result of scientific 
demonstrations totally independent of human will, and they will be subject 
to discussion by all those sufficiently educated to understand them. . . . 
Just as every question of social importance will necessarily be solved as 
well as the existing state of knowledge permits, so will all social functions 
necessarily be entrusted to those men who are most capable of exercising 
them in conformity with the general aims of the community. Under such 


an order we shall then see the disappearance of the three main disadvan- 
tages of the present political system, that is, arbitrariness, incapacity and 
intrigue." 146 

How perfectly this describes the beautiful illusions that ever since 
Saint-Simon's times have seduced scientifically trained minds! And 
yet how obvious it is to us now, even in this first formulation, that 
it is a delusion; that the idea is based on an extension of the scien- 
tific and enigneering technique far beyond the field to which they are 
appropriate. Saint-Simon is fully conscious of the significance of his 
ambitions; he knows that his way of treating the problem of social 
organization "exactly in the same manner as one treats other scien- 
tific questions" is new. 147 And how well has he succeeded in his 
intention d'imprimer au XIX 6 siecle le caractere organisateur! 148 

Yet at first he again fails with his appeals. It is the Bourbon King 
that he hopes will place himself at the head of the new movement 
and thereby not only meet all the dangers which threaten his house 
at the time, but also place France in the front of the march of 
civilization. Beside the glory which the Bourbons can acquire by 
social reforms even the fame of Bonaparte will pale. 149 But the only 
response is a prosecution as a moral accomplice in the assassination 
of the Due de Berry, 150 since in his Parable he had incited the people 
to do away with the nobility. Although in the end he was acquitted, 
the proceedings serving only to stimulate interest in the editor of the 
Organisateur, the journal did not survive this crisis. Saint-Simon's 
funds were once again exhausted, and after a new appeal to all those 
who feel in themselves the vocation to develop the philosophy of the 
nineteenth century and to subscribe as jondateurs de la politique pos- 
itive, also failed, this enterprise too came to an end. 

3. Saint-Simon's next two major publications, although his most 
substantial works, are in the main only elaborations of the ideas 
sketched in the Organisateur. We can watch, however, how he moves 
more and more in the direction of that authoritarian socialism which 
was to take definite form only after his death in the hands of his 
pupils. In the exposition of his Systeme industriel (182 1) 151 really 
more systematic than anything that had yet come from his pen his 
main theme is the "measures finally to terminate the revolution." He 


no longer attempts to conceal his dislike for the principles of liberty 
and for all those who by defending it stand in the way of the realiza- 
tion of his plans. "The vague and metaphysical idea of liberty" "im- 
pedes the action of the masses on the individual" 152 and is "con- 
trary to the development of civilization and to the organization of a 
well-ordered system." 153 The theory of the rights of men 154 and the 
critical work of the lawyers and metaphysicians have served well 
enough to destroy the feudal and theological system and to prepare 
the industrial and scientific one. Saint-Simon sees more clearly 
than most socialists after him that the organization of society for a 
common purpose, 155 which is fundamental to all socialist systems, is 
incompatible with individual freedom and requires the existence of a 
spiritual power which can "choose the direction to which the national 
forces are to be applied." 156 The existing "constitutional, representa- 
tive, or parliamentary system" is a mongrel system that uselessly pro- 
longs the existence of anti-scientific and anti-industrial tendencies 156 
because it allows different ends to compete. The philosophy that 
studies the march of civilization, 158 and the positive scientists 159 who 
are able to base scientific policy on co-ordinated series of historical 
facts, 160 are still to provide the spiritual power. Much more space, 
however, is now given to the organization of the temporal power by 
the industrialists a theme which is further developed in the Gate- 
chisme des Industries (1823). 161 

To entrust the entrepreneurs with the task of preparing the na- 
tional budget and therefore with the direction of the national ad- 
ministration is the best means of securing for the mass of the people 
the maximum of employment and the best livelihood. 162 The indus- 
trialists, by the nature of their various works, form a natural hier- 
archy and they ought to organize into one big corporation which will 
enable them to act in concert for the achievement of their political 
interests. 163 In this hierarchy the bankers, who from their occupa- 
tions know the relations between the different industries, are in the 
best position to co-ordinate the efforts of the different industries, and 
the biggest banking houses in Paris, by their central position, are 
called upon to exercise the central direction of the activities of all 
industrialists. 168 But while the direction of the work of all produc- 
tive workers is to be in the hands of the entrepreneurs as their nat- 


ural leaders, they are to use their powers in the interests of the poor- 
est and most numerous classes; 164 the subsistence of the proletarians 
must be secured by the provision of work for the fit and by the support 
of the invalids. 165 In the one great factory which France will become, 
a new kind of freedom will exist: with the formula which Friedrich 
Engels was later to make famous, we are promised that under the 
new and definite organization, which is the final destiny of man- 
kind, 166 the governmental or military organization will be replaced by 
the administrative or industrial. 167 The obstacle to this re-organiza- 
tion are the nobles and the clergy, the lawyers and the metaphysic- 
ians, and the military and the proprietors who represent the two past 
eras. The bourgeois, who have made the revolution and destroyed 
the exclusive privilege of the nobility to exploit the wealth of the 
nation, have now merged into one class with the latter, and there are 
now only two classes left. 168 In the political struggle for the right to 
exploit, which has continued since the revolution, the industrialists, 
that is, all those who work, have not yet really taken part. But 

"the producers are not interested in whether they are pillaged by one class 
or another. It is clear that the struggle must in the end become one be- 
tween the whole mass of the parasites and the whole mass of the pro- 
ducers till it is decided whether the latter will continue to be the prey of 
the former or whether they will obtain the supreme direction of a society 
of which they form already by far the largest part. This question must be 
decided as soon as it is put directly and plainly, considering the immense 
superiority of power of the producers over the non-producers. 

The moment when this struggle must assume its true character has 
actually arrived. The party of the producers will not hesitate to show 
itself. And even among the men whom birth has placed in the class of 
parasites, those who excel by the width of their views and the greatness 
of their souls begin to feel that the only honorable role which they can 
play is to stimulate the producers to enter into political life, and to help 
them to obtain in the direction of the common affairs the preponderance 
they have already obtained in society." 169 

4. To the Cattchisme des Industriels, which was to spread these 
doctrines further, Auguste Comte contributed the third part, a sub- 
stantial volume called a Plan for the Scientific Operations necessary 
for Re-organizing Society, 170 and two years later (1824) republished 
by its author under the even more anmbitious title System of Post- 


live Policy "a title premature indeed, but rightly indicating the 
scope" of his labors, as Comte said thirty years later. 171 It is the most 
significant single tract of the whole body of literature with which we 
are here concerned. 

In this first form the "positive system" is little more than a bril- 
liant restatement of Saint-Simon's doctrine. 172 Comte here carries still 
further his hatred of the dogma of the liberty of conscience, which 
is the great obstacle to reorganization. 173 Just as in astronomy, 
physics, chemistry, and physiology there is no such thing as liberty 
of conscience, 174 so this transitory fact will disappear once politics 
has been elevated to the rank of a natural science and the true and 
final doctrine has been definitely established. 175 This new science of 
Social Physics, that is to say, the study of the collective development 
of the human race, is really a branch of physiology, or the study of 
man conceived in its entire extension. In other words, the history 
of civilization is nothing but the indispensable result and comple- 
ment of of the natural history of man." 176 Politics is thus on the 
point of becoming a positive science in accordance with the law of 
the three stages, which is now pronounced in its final form: "Each 
branch of knowledge is necessarily obliged to pass through three 
different theoretical states: the Theological or fictitious state; the 
Metaphysical or abstract state; lastly the Scientific or positive state," 
the definite state of all knowledge whatsoever. 177 

The object of social physics is to discover the natural and unavoid- 
able laws of the progress of civilization which are as necessary as 
that of gravitation. 178 By civilization Comte means "the development 
of the human mind and its result, the increasing power of man over 
nature," the ways in which he has learned to act upon nature to mod- 
ify it to his own advantage. 179 It is civilization in this sense, that is 
the state of Science, Fine Arts, and Industry, which determines and 
regulates the course of Social Organization. 180 Social physics, which, 
like all science, aims at prevision, enables us by observing the past 
to determine the social system which the progress of civilization tends 
to realize in our own day. 181 The superiority of positive politics con- 
sists in the fact that it discovers what is made necessary by these nat- 
ural laws while other systems invent. 182 All that remains for us to do 
is to help into life the positive system which the course of civilization 


tends to produce, and we are certain to secure the best system now 
obtainable if we discover that which is most in harmony with the 
present state of civilization. 183 

It will be noticed how close Comte's view on the philosophy of his- 
tory, which is commonly regarded as the opposite of a "materialist" 
interpretation, comes to that view particularly if we remember the 
exact meaning which he gives to the term civilization. In fact, what 
anticipation of the materialist interpretation of history can be found 
in the Saint-Simonian writings and we believe that they are the 
main source of that doctrine can be traced directly to this and some 
of the earlier works of Comte. 184 

Although soon after the publication of the Catechisme des Indus- 
triels Comte was finally to break with Saint-Simon when the latter 
began to turn his doctrine into a religion, the next two works which 
Comte published shortly after Saint-Simon's death in the Saint- 
Simonian Producteur 185 still continue the common line of thought. 
The first of these is of interest mainly for the more careful analysis 
of the progress towards the positive method. He shows how man 
"necessarily begins by regarding all the bodies which attract his at- 
tention as so many beings animated with a life resembling his 
own," 186 and it is interesting that at this stage Comte, who only a 
few years later was to deny the possibility of all introspection, 187 was 
still explaining this by the fact that "the personal action exerted by 
man on other beings is the only kind of which he comprehends the 
modus operandi through his consciousness of it." 188 But already he 
is on the way to denying the legitimacy of the disciplines which are 
based precisely on this knowledge. His attacks now aim not merely 
at the "revolting monstrosity," the anti-social dogma of the liberty 
of conscience, 189 and the anarchy of unregulated individualism gen- 
erally, 190 but are already more specifically directed against the teach- 
ings of political economy. 191 Only by historical considerations can 
it be explained how that "strange phenomenon," the idea that a so- 
ciety ought not to be consciously organized, could ever have arisen. 192 
But as "everything that develops spontaneously is necessarily legit- 
imate during a certain period," 193 so the Critical Doctrine has had a 
relative justification during the past. But a perfect social order can 
be established only if we can in all cases "assign to every individual 


or nation that precise kind of activity for which they are respectively 
fitted." m But this presupposes a spiritual power, a moral code, of 
which again Comte cannot conceive except as deliberately con- 
structed. 195 The necessary moral order can therefore be created only 
by a Government of Opinion which determines "the entire system 
of ideas and habits necessary for initiating individuals into the social 
order under which they must live." 196 The ideas, which, after he had 
allowed himself for twenty years to be deeply influenced by Comte, 
finally so revolted J. S. Mill that he described them as "the complet- 
est system of spiritual and temporal despotism which ever yet ema- 
nated from a human brain, unless possibly that of Ignatius 
Loyola," 197 were present in Comte's thoughts from the beginning. 
They are a necessary consequence of the whole system of thought 
which not only J. S. Mill, but the whole world, has taken over from 

5. There is little more to say about the last phase of Saint-Simon's 
life. While the Catechisme des Industriels was in the process of pub- 
lication, a new financial crisis in his affairs threatened him again with 
starvation, and early in 1823 the old man, now really discouraged, 
tried to blow out his brains. He recovered, however, from the self- 
inflicted wound with the loss of one eye, and soon assistance came 
from a new, enthusiastic, and this time wealthy pupil. The young 
banker and former instructor at the Ecole Poly technique, Olinde 
Rodrigues, not only provided for Saint-Simon's necessities during the 
last two years of his life, but also became the center of the little 
group which after his death developed into the Ecole Scdnt-Simonien. 
He was soon joined by the poet L6on Halevy, the physiologist Dr. 
Bailly, the lawyer Duveyrier and others. With them Saint-Simon pre- 
pared the Opinions litteraires, philosophiques et industrielles (1825) 
in which the banker, the poet and the physiologist each elaborated 
the parts of the doctrine of the master for which they possessed spe- 
cial competence. Only a little later in the same year appeared the 
last work of Saint-Simon, marking the final phase of his work, the 
Nouveau Christianisme. 

Already for some time Saint-Simon had shown an increasing tend- 
ency away from the narrowly "scientific" and towards a more mys- 


tical and religious form of his doctrine. This had indeed been the 
final cause of the estrangement between him and Comte, who, how- 
ever, was to undergo a similar change towards the end of his own 
career. In Saint-Simon's case this development is partly a return to 
his first ideas. 

Since the great schism at the time of the reformation, he argues, 
none of the Christian churches represents true Christianity. They 
have all neglected the fundamental precept that men should behave 
as brothers towards each other. The main object of true Christianity 
must be "the speediest improvement of the moral and the physical 
existence of the poorest class" a phrase which appears on almost 
every page of the brochure and which became the watchword of the 
Saint-Simonian group. Since the churches have made no use of their 
opportunity to improve the lot of the poor by the teaching and en- 
couragement of the arts and the organization of industry, the Lord 
is now addressing the people and the princes through His new 
prophet. He undertakes to reconstruct theology, which from time to 
time needs to be renewed, just as physics, chemistry and physiology 
must be periodically re-written. 198 The new theology will pay more 
attention to the terrestrial interests of man. All that is required is an 
organization of industry that will assure a great amount of work of 
the kind which will secure the quickest advance of human intelligence. 
"You can create such conditions; now that the extent of our planet 
is known, let the scholars, the artists and the industrialists draw up a 
general plan of the works which must be carried out in order that the 
terrestrial possessions of the human race be put to the most produc- 
tive use and made the most agreeable to inhabit in all respects." 199 

Saint-Simon survived the appearance of the Nouveau Christian- 
isme by only a few weeks. He died in May, 1825, at the age of 65, 
calmly expecting his death while discussing future projects with the 
group of pupils that now surrounded him. The life that had been an 
example of the precepts he had laid down for all future sociologists, 
"passing through all classes of society, putting oneself personally in 
the greatest number of different social positions, and even creating 
for oneself and others relationships which have never existed be- 
fore," 20 ended in peace, tolerable comfort and even in possession of 
a considerable reputation. 


The funeral re-united the older pupils like Thierry and Comte 
with the new ones. The old Saint-Simon had just seen die beginnings 
of the school that under his name was to spread far and wide a body 
of ideas derived from his work. It is due to them that he has become 
a figure of considerable importance in the history of social ideas. 
While he was certainly an original, he was scarcely an original or 
profound thinker. The ideas which he bequeathed to his pupils were 
unquestionably held by many people at the time. But by his persist- 
ence and enthusiasm he gained adherents for them among men who 
were capable of developing them and in whom he inspired sufficient 
enthusiasm to act as a body in spreading them. As one of his French 
biographers has said, his role was de jaire flamboyer les idees comme 
des reclames lumineuses. 201 He has performed it to perfection. 



1. Less than a month after Saint-Simon's death his friends and 
disciples constituted themselves into a formal association in order to 
realize the project of another journal which he still had discussed 
with them. The Producteur, which appeared in six volumes in 1825 
and 1826, was edited by the group under the leadership of Olinde 
Rodrigues, with the collaboration of Auguste Comte and some others 
who were not strictly members. Soon another young engineer, who 
had seen Saint-Simon only once when Rodrigues introduced him, was 
to become the outstanding figure of the group and the editor of its 

Barth61emy-Prosper Enfantin was the son of a banker. He had 
entered the Ecole Poly technique but had left it in 1814, two years 
before Comte, and, like him, without completing the course. He had 
since entered business, spent some years traveling and working in 
Germany and Russia, and had recently devoted some time to the 
study of political economy and particularly to the works of Jeremy 
Bentham. Although his education as an engineer had remained in- 
complete, or perhaps because of this, his belief in the unlimited pow- 
ers of the mathematical and technical sciences remained one of the 
most characteristic features of his intellectual make-up. As he ex- 
plained on one occasion, "when I have found the words probabilities, 
logarithm, asymptote, I am happy, because I have regained the road 
which leads me to formulas and forms." 202 An uncommonly hand- 
some man according to the views of his contemporaries, he seems to 
have possessed great personal charm, which made it possible for him 
gradually to swing the entire Saint-Simonian movement in the direc- 



tion into which his sentimental and mystical bent led him. But he also 
commanded considerable powers of intellect which enabled him to 
make important contributions before Saint-Simonism passed from its 
philosophical to its religious phase. 203 

It has been said, with some truth, that Saint-Simonism was born 
after Saint-Simon's death. 204 However pregnant in suggestions 
Saint-Simon's writings were, he never achieved a coherent system. It 
is probably also true that the very obscurity of his writings was one 
of the greatest incentives for his disciples to develop his doctrines 
further. It also explains why the importance of the joint efforts of 
Saint-Simon and his pupils has rarely been properly appreciated. The 
natural tendency of those who have recognized it has been to ascribe 
too much to Saint-Simon himself. Others, who have been led by this 
to study Saint-Simon's own writings, have been bound to turn away 
disappointed. Although almost all ideas of the School can be found 
somewhere in the works that have appeared in Saint-Simon's 
name, 205 the real force which decisively influenced European thought 
were the Saint-Simonians and not Saint-Simon himself. And we 
must never forget that the greatest of the Saint-Simonians in their 
early years, and the medium through whom many of them had re- 
ceived the doctrine of the master, 206 was Auguste Comte, who, as 
we know, still contributed to the Producteur, although he was no 
longer a member of the group and soon broke off all relations with 

2. The new journal had for its expressed purpose "to develop and 
expand the principles of a philosophy of human nature based on the 
recognition that the destiny of our race is to exploit and modify 
external nature to its greatest advantage," and it believed that this 
could best be done by "incessantly extending association, one of the 
most powerful means at its command." 207 In order to attract the 
general public the programmatic articles were interspersed with others 
on technological or statistical subjects, which were often written by 
outsiders. But most of the journal was written by the little group of 
disciples. There can also be little doubt that, even during the year 
when the Producteur was the center of their activities, Enfantin had 
already the largest share in the development of the doctrines of the 


school, although for some time his position was equaled or even 
overshadowed by the powerful personality of another new recruit, 
Saint-Amand Hazard. 208 Slightly older than Rodrigues or Enfantin, 
and, as a former member of the French Carbonari movement, an ex- 
perienced revolutionary, he joined the collaborators of the Produc- 
teur, who already had attracted some old Babouvists and Carbonaris. 
But although these, and Bazard in particular, played an important 
part in leading the Saint-Simonians towards more radical views, it is 
probable that the latter's doctrinal contributions are usually over- 
rated and that his role is more appropriately described by a con- 
temporary who said that "M. Enfantin found the ideas, M. Bazard 
formulated them. 209 Bazard's articles in the Producteur, apart from 
an even fiercer hatred of the liberty of conscience 21 than had been 
shown by Saint-Simon or even Comte, add little that is new. The 
same is true of most of the other contributors except Enfantin and, 
of course, Comte, although the elaboration of the Saint-Simonian 
doctrine of the social function of art by Leon HalSvy must not be 
overlooked. He sees the time approaching when the "art of moving 
the masses" will be so perfectly developed that the painter, the mu- 
sician, and the poet "will possess the power to please and to move 
with the same certainty as the mathematician solves a geometrical 
problem or the chemist analyzes some substance. Then only will the 
moral side of society be firmly established." 211 The word propa- 
ganda was not yet used in this connection, but the art of the modern 
Ministries of Propaganda would have been fully appreciated and these 
institutions were even foreseen by the Saint-Simonians. 

Important developments occur in the economic articles which En- 
fantin contributed to the Producteur. The growth of nearly all the 
new elements of the social doctrine of the Saint-Simonians, which we 
shall meet presently in their final form in the celebrated Exposition, 
can be traced in these articles. The general interest in the problems 
of industrial organization, the enthusiasm for the new growth of joint- 
stock companies, the doctrine of general association, the increasing 
doubts about the usefulness of private property and of interest, the 
plans for the direction of all economic activity by the banks all 
these ideas were gradually worked out and were more and more 
strongly emphasized. We must here be content to quote two sen- 


tences particularly characteristic of his approach to the problems. 
One ridicules the idea that "a human society could exist without an 
intelligence which directs it." 212 The other describes the concepts 
which have so far formed the preoccupation of political economy, 
namely "value, price, and production, which do not contain any con- 
structive idea for the composition or organisation of society," as "ir- 
relevant details." 213 

3. The Producteur, which had appeared first weekly, and then 
monthly, came to an end in October, 1826. While this meant the ces- 
sation for three years of all public activity of the group, there had 
already been created a common doctrine which could serve as the 
basis for intensive propaganda by word of mouth. It was at this time 
that they had their first great successes among the students of the 
Ecole Poly technique, to which they specially directed their efforts. 
As Enfantin later expressed it: "The Ecole Poly technique must be 
the channel through which our ideas will spread through society. It 
is the milk which we have sucked at our beloved School which must 
nourish the generations to come. It is there that we have learnt the 
positive language and the methods of research and demonstration 
which today secure the advance of the political sciences." 214 The 
success of these efforts was such that within a few years the group 
consisted of some hundred engineers with only a sprinkling of doc- 
tors and a few artists and bankers, who were mostly left over from 
Saint-Simon's immediate disciples, or, like the brothers Pereire, the 
cousins of Rodrigues, or his friend Gustave d'Eichthal, were per- 
sonally related to them. 

Among the first of the young engineers to join the movement were 
the two friends Abel Transon and Jules Lechevalier, 215 who through 
their knowledge of German philosophy helped to give the Saint- 
Simonian doctrines a certain Hegelian veneer which later proved so 
important in helping their success in Germany. A short time after 
followed Michel Chevalier, later famous as an economist, and Henri 
Fournel, who, to join the movement, resigned a position as director 
of the Creuzot works and later became Saint-Simon's biographer. 
Hippolyte Carnot, although himself never a pupil of the Ecole Poly- 
technique, since he had spent his youth with his father in exile, must 


also be counted with this group, not only as the son of Lazare, but 
still more as the brother of the polytechnician Sadi Carnot, the 
"founder of the science of energy," discoverer of the "Carnot cycle," 
the ideal of technical efficiency, with whom he lived in these years 
while the latter developed his famous theories and at the same time 
preserved a lively although never active interest in the political and 
social discussions of his friends. 216 At least by tradition and connec- 
tions, if not by training, Hippolyte Carnot was as much an engineer 
as the others. 

For a time the apartment of the Carnots was the place where En- 
fantin and Hazard taught an ever increasing number of young en- 
thusiasts. 217 But towards the end of 1828 they had outgrown that 
accommodation and it was decided that a more formal oral exposi- 
tion of their views should be given to a larger audience. It is probable 
that this was suggested by the success of a similar experiment by 
Comte, who in 1826 had begun to expound his Positive Philosophy 
to a distinguished audience, including, besides such scholars as Alex- 
ander von Humboldt and Poinsot, also Carnot, who had been sent 
there by Enfantin to receive his first instruction in Saint-Simon- 
ism. 218 Although Comte's attempt had soon been cut short by the 
mental affliction which interrupted his work for three years, it had 
attracted sufficient attention to invite imitation. 

The course of lectures which the Saint-Simonians arranged in 
1829 and 1830, in the form in which it has come down to us as the 
two parts of the Doctrine de Saint-Simon, Exposition, 21 * is by far the 
most important document produced by Saint-Simon or his pupils and 
one of the great landmarks in the history of socialism which deserves 
to be much better known than it is outside France. If it is not the 
Bible of Socialism, as it has been called by a French scholar, 220 it 
deserves at least to be regarded as its Old Testament. And in some 
respects it did indeed carry socialist thought further than was done 
for nearly a hundred years after its publication. 

4. As befits one of the foundations of collectivist thought, the 
Exposition is the product of no single man. Although Bazard, as the 
most skillful speaker, delivered the majority of the lectures, their 
content was the result of discussion among the group. The published 


texts were actually written by H. Carnot from notes taken by him 
and others during the lectures, and it is presumably to him that the 
Exposition owes its elegance and power. An important supplement 
to it are the five lectures on the Saint-Simonian religion which Abel 
Transon delivered about the same time to the students of the Ecole 
Polytechnique 221 and which are appended to some of the editions of 
the Exposition. 

It is difficult without tiresome repetition to give an adequate idea 
of this most comprehensive expression of Saint-Simonian thought, 
since much of it is of course a more or less faithful reproduction of 
views we have already met. It is, however, not merely, as it claims to 
be, the sole publication in which the whole of the contribution of 
Saint-Simon (and, we should add, the young Comte) has been 
brought into a comprehensive system; but it also develops it further, 
and it is these developments by Enfantin and his friends which we 
must mainly consider. 

A large part of the more important first volume of the Exposition 
is given to a broad philosophic survey of history and of the "law of 
development of humanity revealed to the genius of Saint-Simon," 222 
which, based on the study of mankind as a "collective being," 223 
shows us with certainty what its future will be. 224 This law asserts 
in the first instance the alternation of organic and critical states, in 
the former of which "all aspects of human activity are ordered, fore- 
seen and co-ordinated by a general theory," while in the critical 
states society is an agglomeration of isolated individuals struggling 
against each other. 225 The final destiny towards which we are tending 
is a state where all antagonism between men will have entirely disap- 
peared and the exploitation of men by men is replaced by their joint 
and harmonic action upon nature. 226 But this definite state, where 
the "systematisation of effort," 227 the "organisation of labor" 228 for 
a common purpose 22d is perfected, is reached only in stages. The 
basic fact of the ever decreasing antagonism between men, which will 
lead in the end to the "universal association," 230 implies a "steady 
diminution of the exploitation of men by men" a phrase which 
forms the leitmotif of the whole Exposition. 2 * 1 While the positive 
advance towards the universal association is marked by the stages of 
the family, town, nation, and the federation of nations having a com- 


mon creed and church, 232 the decrease of exploitation is shown by 
the changing relations between the classes. From the stage when can- 
nibalism was practiced on the captive, through slavery and serfdom 
to the present relations between proletarians and proprietors, there 
has been a constant decrease of the degree of exploitation. 233 But men 
are still divided into two classes, the exploiters and the exploited. 234 
There is still a class of disinherited proletarians. 235 As the eloquent 
Abel Transon put it to the young polytechnicians in a passage of his 
lectures which better than anything in the Exposition sums up the 
main argument: 

"The peasant or craftsman is no longer attached to the man or to the 
soil, he is not subjected to the whip like the slave; he owns a greater part 
of his labor than the serf, but still, the law is cruel at his expense. All the 
fruit of his labor does not belong to him. He has to share it with other 
people who are not useful to him either by their knowledge or by their 
power. In short, there are no masters for him nor lords, but there are 
BOURGEOIS, and so that's what a BOURGEOIS is. 

"As the owner of land and capital the bourgeois disposes of these at 
his will and does not place them in the hands of the workers except on 
condition that he receive a premium from the price of their work, a 
premium that will support him and his family. Whether a direct heir of 
the man of conquest or else an emancipated son of the peasant class, this 
difference of origin merges into the common character which I have just 
described; only in the first case is the title of his possession based on a 
fact which is now condemned, on the action of the sword; in the second 
case the origin is more honorable, it is the work of industry. But in the 
eyes of the future this title is in either case illegitimate and without value 
because it hands over to the mercy of a privileged class all those whose 
fathers have not left them any instruments of production." 236 

The cause of this still existing state of affairs is the "constitution of 
property, the transmission of wealth by inheritance within the 
family." 237 But the institution of "property is a social fact, subject, 
as all other social facts, to the law of progress." 238 According to the 
Exposition the new order will be created by 

"the transfer to the State, which will become an association of workers, 
of the right of inheritance which to-day is confined to the members of the 
family. The privileges of birth which have already received such heavy 
blows in so many respects must entirely disappear." 289 


"If, as we proclaim, humanity moves toward a state where all the indi- 
viduals will be classed according to their capacities and remunerated 
according to their work, its is evident that the right of property, as it 
exists, must be abolished, because, by giving to a certain class of men the 
possibility to live on the work of others and in complete idleness, it pre- 
serves the exploitation of one part of the population, the most useful one, 
that which works and produces, in favor of those who only destroy." 24 

They explain that to them land and labor are merely "instruments 
of work; and the proprietors and capitalists . . . are the depositaries 
of these instruments; their function 241 is to distribute them among 
the workers." 242 But they perform this function very inefficiently. 
The Saint-Simonians had studied Sismondi's Nouveaux principes 
d f economic politique which in 1826 had appeared in a new edition, 
in which the author for the first time describes how the ravages of 
economic crises were caused by "chaotic competition." But while 
Sismondi had no real remedy to propose and later seems even to have 
deplored the effects of his teaching, 243 the Saint-Simonians had one. 
Their description of the defects of competition is almost entirely 
taken from Sismondi: 

"In the present state of affairs, where the distribution [of the instru- 
ments of production] is effected by the capitalists and proprietors, none 
of these functions is performed except after much groping, experimenting, 
and many unfortunate experiences; and even so the result obtained is 
always imperfect, always temporary. Each person is left to act on his own 
individual knowledge; no general conspectus guides production; it takes 
place without judgment, without foresight; it is deficient at one point and 
excessive at another." 244 

The economic crises are thus due to the fact that the distribution 
of the instruments of production is effected by isolated individuals, 
ignorant of the requirements and needs of industry and of the people, 
and of the means that can satisfy them. 245 The solution which the 
Saint-Simonians propose was at die time completely new and origi- 
nal. In the new world which they invite us to contemplate 

"there will be no longer any proprietors, no isolated capitalists, who by 
their habits are strangers to industrial activity, yet who decide the char- 
acter of the work and the fate of the workers. A social institution is 
charged with these functions which to-day are so badly performed; it is 
the depository of all the instruments of production; it presides over the 


exploitation of all the material resources; from its point of vantage it has 
a comprehensive view of the whole which enables it to perceive at one 
and the same time all the parts of the industrial workshop; through its 
ramifications it is in touch with all the different places, with all kinds of 
industries, and with all the workers; it can thus take account of all the 
general and individual wants, bring men and instruments to where the 
need for them makes itself felt; in a word, it can direct the production 
and put it in harmony with consumption and entrust the tools to the most 
deserving industrialists, because it incessantly endeavours to discover their 
capacity and is in the best position to develop them ... In this new 
world . . . the disturbances which follow from the lack of general accord 
and from the blind distribution of the agents and instruments of produc- 
tion would disappear and with them also the misfortunes, the reverses 
and failures of firms against which to-day no peaceful worker is protected. 
In a word, industrial activity is organised, everything is connected, every- 
thing foreseen; the division of labor is perfected and the combination of 
efforts becomes every day more powerful." 248 

The "social institution" which is to perform all these functions is not 
left vague and undetermined as it was by most later socialists. It is 
the banking system, properly reconstructed and centralized and 
crowned by a single banque unitaire, directrice, which is to serve as 
the planning body: 

"The social institution of the future will direct all industries in the 
interest of the whole society and specially of the peaceful workers. We 
call this institution provisionally the general system of banks, making all 
reservations against the too narrow interpretations which one might give 
to this term. 

"The system will comprise in the first instance a central bank which 
constitutes the government in the material sphere; this bank will become 
the depository of all wealth, of the whole productive fund, of all the instru- 
ments of production, in short of everything that to-day makes up the 
whole mass of private property." 247 

We need not follow the Exposition further into the detail of the 
proposed organization. 248 The main points given will suffice to show 
that in their description of the organization of a planned society they 
went much further than later socialists until quite recent times, and 
also how heavily later socialists have drawn on their ideas. Till the 
modern discussion of the problem of calculation in a socialist com- 
munity this description of its working has not been further advanced. 
There was very little justification for dubbing this very realistic pic- 


ture of a planned society "Utopian." Marx, characteristically, added 
to it the one part of classical English economics which was out of 
tune with its general analysis of competition, the "objective" or labor 
theory of value. The general results of the fusion of Saint-Simonian 
and Hegelian ideas, of which Marx is of course the best-known ex- 
ponent, will occupy us later. 240 

But in so far as that general socialism which today is common 
property is concerned, little had to be added to Saint-Simonian 
thought. As a further indication of how profoundly the Saint- 
Simonians have influenced modern thought, it need only be men- 
tioned to what a great extent all European languages have drawn 
from their vocabulary. "Individualism," 25 "industrialist," 251 "posi- 
tivism," 252 and the "organization of labor" 258 all occur first in the Ex- 
position. The concept of the "class struggle" and the contrast between 
the "bourgeoisie" and the "proletariat" in the special technical sense of 
the terms are Saint-Simonian creations. The word "socialism" itself, 
although it does not yet appear in the Exposition (which uses "asso- 
ciation" in very much the same sense), appears in its modern mean- 
ing for the first time 254 a little later in the Saint-Simonian Globe. 255 

5. With the appearance of the Exposition, and of a number of arti- 
cles by Enfantin 256 and others in the new Saint-Simonian journals 
Organisateur and Globe which we need not further consider, the de- 
velopment of their ideas which is of interest to us came more or less 
suddenly to an end. If we cast a quick glance over the further history 
of the School, or rather the Saint-Simonian Church, as it presently 
became, it will show why its immediate influence was not greater, or 
rather, why that influence was not more clearly recognized. The 
reason is that under Enfantin's influence the doctrine was turned into 
a religion; 257 the sentimental and mystic elements gained the upper 
hand over the ostensibly scientific and rational, just as they did in 
the last phases of Saint-Simon's and later of Comte's life. Already 
the second year of the Exposition shows an increasing tendency in 
that direction. But in its further career the literary activities are of 
less importance and it is to the organization of the Church and to 
the practical application of its doctrines that we must look for the 
picturesque qualities and sensational doings of the new church which 


have attracted more attention than the earlier and more important 
phase of its activity. 258 

The new religion consisted at first merely of a vague pantheism 
and a fervent belief in human solidarity. But the dogma was much 
less important than the cult and the hierarchy. The School became a 
Family over which Enfantin and Hazard presided as the two Su- 
preme Fathers new popes with a college of apostles and various 
other grades of members below them. Services were organized at 
which not only the doctrine was taught, but at which the members 
soon began publicly to confess their sins. Itinerant preachers spread 
the doctrine all over the country and founded local centers. 

For a time the success was considerable, not only in Paris but 
throughout France and even in Belgium. Among their group they 
counted then P. Leroux, Adolphe Blanqui, Pecqueur and Cabet. 
Le Play was also a member 25d and in Brussels they gained a new 
enthusiast for social physics in the astronomer and statistician, A. 
Quetelet, who had already been profoundly influenced by the circle 
of the Ecole Poly technique. 26 

The July revolution of 1830 found them altogether unprepared but 
naively assuming that it would place them into power. It is said that 
Bazard and Enfantin even requested Louis Philippe to hand over to 
them the Tuileries since they were the only legitimate power on 
earth. One effect of the revolution on their doctrines appears to have 
been that they felt compelled to make some concessions to the 
democratic tendencies of the age. The originally authoritarian social- 
ism thus began its temporary partnership with liberal democracy. The 
reasons for this step were explained by the Saint-Simonians with an 
amazing frankness, rarely equaled by later socialists: "We demand 
at this moment liberty of religious practice in order that a single re- 
ligion can be more easily erected on the ruins of the religious past of 
humanity; ... the liberty of the press, because this is the indispensa- 
ble condition for the subsequent creation of a legitimate direction of 
thought; the liberty of teaching, in order that our doctrine can be 
more easily propagated and become one day the only one loved and 
followed by all; the destruction of the monopolies as a means of 
arriving at the definite organisation of the industrial body." 261 Their 
real views, however, are better shown by their early discovery of, 


and enthusiasm for, the organising genius of Prussia 262 a sympathy 
which, as we shall presently see, was reciprocated by the "Young 
Germans," one of whom, with some justification, remarked that the 
Prussians had long been Saint-Simonians. 263 The only other doctrinal 
development during this period which we need mention is their in- 
creasing interest in railways, canals and banks, to which so many of 
them were to give their lif ework after the dispersal of the School. 

Already Enfantin's early attempt to turn the School into a Religion 
had created a certain tension among the leaders and caused some de- 
sertions. The main crisis came when he began to develop new theories 
about the position of women and the relation between the sexes. 
There was practically nothing in the teaching of Saint-Simon himself 
to justify this new departure, and the first elements of this doctrine 
were probably an importation from Fourierism, with its theory of 
the couple, man and woman, constituting the true social individual. 
For Enfantin there was only a short step from the principle of the 
emancipation of women to the doctrine of the "rehabilitation of the 
flesh" and the distinction between the "constant" and "inconstant" 
types among both sexes, which both should be able to have it their 
own way. These doctrines and the rumors which got around about 
their practical application (for which, it must be admitted, the Saint- 
Simonians gave ample cause in their writings 264 ) created a consid- 
erable scandal. A break between Enfantin and Hazard followed, and 
the latter left the movement and died nine months later. His chair 
was left vacant for the Mere supreme, an honor which George Sand 
had declined. With Bazard some of the most eminent members, Car- 
not, Leroux, Lechevalier and Transon seceded, the last two becom- 
ing Fourierists; and a few months later even Rodrigues, the living 
link with Saint-Simon, broke with Enfantin. 

Faced with a serious setback, since financial difficulties made it 
necessary to discontinue the Globe, and as they had begun to attract 
the attention of the police, Enfantin with forty faithful apostles with- 
drew to a house at Menilmontant, at the outskirts of Paris, to begin 
a new life in accordance with the precepts of the doctrine. The forty 
men started there a community life without servants, dividing the 
menial tasks between them and observing, to silence the ugly rumors, 
strict celibacy. But if their life was half modeled on that of a monas- 


tery, in other respects it was more like that of a Nazi Fuhrerschule. 
Athletic exercises and courses in the doctrine were to prepare them 
for a more active life in the future. 

Although they voluntarily confined themselves to their estate, they 
did not cease in their attempts to attract notoriety. The forty apostles 
who in their fantastic costumes cultivated their garden and tended 
their home became for a while the sensation of the Parisians, who 
flocked there in thousands to watch the spectacle. In consequence 
the "retreat" by no means reassured the police. Proceedings were in- 
stituted against Enfantin, Chevalier and Duveyrier for outraging 
public morality and ended with their being condemned to imprison- 
ment for one year. The march of the whole group to the law courts 
in their peculiar costumes and with their spades and other imple- 
ments on their shoulders, and the sensational defense of the accused, 
was almost the last public appearance of the group. When Enfantin 
entered the St. Pelagier prison to serve his sentence the movement 
began rapidly to decline and the establishment in Menilmontant soon 
broke up. A group of disciples still gave the people much to talk 
about by their journey to Constantinople and the East pour chercher 
la femme libre. 2 * 5 But when Enfantin left the prison, although he 
organized another journey to the East, it was for a more sensible 
purpose. He and a group of Saint-Simonians spent some years in 
Egypt, trying to organize the piercing of the Isthmus of Suez. And 
although they at first failed to obtain support, it is largely due to their 
efforts that later the Suez Canal Company was founded. 266 As we 
shall have occasion to mention again, most of them continued to de- 
vote their lives to similar useful efforts Enfantin to founding the 
Paris-Lyon-Mediterranee railway system and many of his disciples to 
organizing railway and canal constructions in other parts of France 
and elsewhere. 267 



L It is not easy today to appreciate the immense stir which the 
Saint-Simonian movement caused for a couple of years, not only iq 
France, but throughout Europe, or to gauge the extent of the influ- 
ence which the doctrine has exercised. But there can be little doubt 
that this influence was far greater than is commonly realized. If one 
were to judge that influence by the frequency with which the Saint- 
Simonians were mentioned in the literature of the time, it would seem 
that their celebrity was as short-lived as it was great. We must not 
forget, however, that in its later years the school had covered itself 
with ridicule by its pseudo-religious harlequinades and its various 
escapades and follies, and that in consequence many men who had 
absorbed most of its social and philosophical teaching might well 
have been ashamed to admit their association with the cranks of 
Menilmontant and the men who went to the East in search of the 
femme llbre. It was only natural that people should come to treat 
their Saint-Simonian period as a youthful folly of which they did not 
wish to boast. But that did not mean that the ideas they had then ab- 
sorbed did not continue to operate in and through them, and a care- 
ful investigation, which has yet to be undertaken, would probably 
show how surprisingly wide that influence has extended. 

Here we are not primarily interested in tracing the influence of 
persons or groups. From our point of view it would be even more 
significant if it could be shown that a similar situation has produced 
similar ideas elsewhere without any direct influence from the Saint- 
Simonians. Yet any study of similar contemporaneous movements 
elsewhere soon reveals a close connection with the French prototypes. 
Even if it is doubtful whether in all these cases we are really entitled 


to speak of influence, and whether we should not rather say that all 
those who happened to have similar ideas soon found their way to 
Saint-Simonism, it will be worth while to cast a rapid glance over the 
variety of channels through which this influence acted, since the ex- 
tent of it is yet so little understood, and particularly because the 
spreading of Saint-Simonism also meant a spreading of Comtian 
positivism in its early form. 

The first point which it is important to realize is that this influence 
was by no means confined to people mainly interested in social and 
political speculation, but that it was even stronger in literary and 
artistic circles, which often became almost unconsciously the medium 
of spreading Saint-Simonian conceptions on other matters. In France 
the Saint-Simonian ideas about the social function of art made a deep 
impression on some of the greatest writers of the time, and are held 
responsible for the profound change in the literary atmosphere which 
then took place. 268 The demand that all art should be tendentious, 
that it should serve social criticism and for this purpose represent life 
as it is in all its ugliness led to a veritable revolution in letters. 209 
Not only authors who like George Sand or Beranger had been closely 
associated with the Saint-Simonians, but some of the greatest writers 
of the period such as H. de Balzac, 270 V. Hugo, and Eugene Sue ab- 
sorbed and practiced much of the Saint-Simonian teaching. Among 
composers Franz Liszt had been a frequent visitor to their meetings 
and Berlioz with a Chant d' Inauguration des Chemins de Per applied 
Saint-Simonian precepts to music. 

2. The influence of Saint-Simonism in England was also partly 
in the literary field. The main expositor of their ideas here became 
for a time Thomas Carlyle, whose indebtedness to Saint-Simonian 
doctrine is well known and who even translated and attempted to 
publish with an anonymous introduction Saint-Simon's Nouveau 
Christianisme. 211 He is the first of the many instances we shall meet 
where Saint-Simonism or Comtian and German influences so readily 
blended. Carlyle's views on the philosophy of history, his exposition 
of the Law of Progress in Sartor Resartus, his division of history into 
positive and negative periods, are all mainly of Saint-Simonian ori- 
gin, and his interpretation of the French Revolution is penetrated 


with Saint-Simonian thought. The influence which he in turn exer- 
cised need not be stressed here, but it is worth pointing out that the 
later English Positivists recognized that his teaching had largely pre- 
pared the way for them. 272 

Better known is the influence which the Saint-Simonians exercised 
on J. S. Mill. In his Autobiography 273 he describes them as "the 
writers by whom, more than by any others, a new mode of thinking 
was brought home" to him and recounts how particularly one of their 
publications, which seemed to him far superior to the rest, Comte's 
early System of Positive Policy, 

"harmonized well with my existing notions to which it seemed to give a 
scientific shape. I already regarded the methods of physical science as the 
proper models for political. But the chief benefit which I derived at this 
time from the trains of thought suggested by the Saint-Simonians and by 
Comte, was, that I obtained a clearer conception than ever before of the 
peculiarities of an era of transition in opinion, and ceased to mistake the 
moral and intellectual characteristics of such an era, for the normal 
attributes of humanity." 

Mill goes on to explain how, although he lost sight for a time 
of Comte, he was kept au courant of the Saint-Simonian's progress 
by G. d'Eichthal (who had also introduced Carlyle to Saint-Simon- 
ism), 274 how he read nearly everything they wrote and how it was 
"partly by their writings that [his] eyes were opened to the very 
limited and temporary value of the old political economy, which as- 
sumes private property and inheritance as indefeasible facts and 
freedom of production and exchange as the dernier mot of social im- 
provement." From a letter to d'Eichthal 275 it appears that he became 
so far convinced as to be "inclined to think that [their] social organi- 
zation, under some modification or other ... is likely to be the final 
and permanent condition of our race," although he differed from 
them in believing that it would take many or at least several stages 
till mankind would be capable of realizing it. We have here un- 
doubtedly the first roots of J. S. Mill's socialist leanings. But in Mill's 
case, too, this was largely a preparation for the still more profound 
influence which Comte was later to exercise on him. 

3. In no country outside France, however, did the Saint-Simonian 
doctrine arouse greater interest than in Germany. 276 This interest 


began to show itself surprisingly early. Already the first Organisateur 
seems to have reached a considerable number of readers in that 
country. 277 Some years later it seems to have been Comte's pupil 
Gustave d'Eichthal who, even before his similar efforts in England, 
on a visit to Berlin in 1824, succeeded in interesting several people 
in Comte's Systeme de Politique Positive, with the result that a fairly 
detailed review, the only one the book ever received in any language, 
appeared in the Leipziger Liter atur-Zeitung And in Friedrich 
Buchholz, then a well-known political writer, d'Eichthal gained 
Comte a warm admirer, who not only in a flattering letter to Comte 
expressed complete agreement, 279 but who also in 1826 and 1827 
published in his Neue Monatsschrijt fur Deutschland four anony- 
mous articles on Saint-Simon's work, followed by a translation of the 
concluding part of the Systeme Industriel. 280 

It was, however, only in the autumn of 1830 that general interest 
in the Saint-Simonian movement awoke in Germany; and during the 
next two or three years it went like wildfire through the German 
literary world. The July Revolution had made Paris once more the 
center of attraction for all progressives, and the Saint-Simonians, 
then at the height of their reputation, were the outstanding intellec- 
tual movement in that Mecca of all liberals. A veritable flood of 
books, pamphlets and articles of the Saint-Simonians 281 and trans- 
lations of some of their writings 282 appeared in German and there 
was little that could not be learned about them from German sources. 
The wave of excitement even reached the old Goethe, who sub- 
scribed to the Globe (probably since its liberal days) and who, after 
he had warned Carlyle as early as October, 1830, "to keep away 
from the Societe St. Simonienne," 283 and after several recorded con- 
versations on the subject, in May, 1831, still felt impelled to spend a 
day reading to get at the bottom of the Saint-Simonian doctrine. 284 

The whole German literary world seems to have been agog for 
news about the novel French ideas and to some, as Rahel von Varn- 
hagen describes it, the Saint-Simonian Globe became the indispensa- 
ble intellectual daily bread. 285 The news about the Saint-Simonian 
movements appears to have been the decisive factor which in 1831 
drew Heinrich Heine to Paris, 286 and, as he later said, he had not 
been twenty-four hours in Paris before he sat in the midst of the 


Saint-Simonians. 287 From Paris he and L. Boerne did much to spread 
information about the Saint-Simonians in Germany literary circles. 
Another important source of information for those who had stayed 
behind, particularly the Varnhagens, was the American Albert Bris- 
bane, then not yet a Fourierist, but already spreading socialist ideas 
on his travels. 288 How profoundly these ideas were affecting the 
Young German poets Laube, Gutzkow, Mundt and Wiebarg has 
been well described by Miss E. M. Butler in her book on the Saint- 
Simonian Religion in Germany, where with much justification she 
describes the whole Young German school as a Saint-Simonian 
movement. 289 In their short but spectacular existence as a group be- 
tween 1832 and 1835 they persistently, if more crudely than their 
French contemporaries, applied the Saint-Simonian principle that art 
must be tendentious, and in particular popularized their feminist doc- 
trines and their demands for the "rehabilitation of the flesh." 29 

4. Much more important for our purpose, but unfortunately 
much less explored, 291 is the relation of the Saint-Simonians to an- 
other connected German group, the Young Hegelians. The curious 
affinity which existed between the Hegelian and the Saint-Simonian 
ideas and which was strongly felt by the contemporaries will occupy 
us later. Here we are concerned only with the actual extent to which 
the younger Hegelian philosophers were directly affected by Saint- 
Simonian ideas, and how much therefore the decisive change which 
led to the separation of the Young Hegelians from the orthodox fol- 
lowers of the philosopher may have been partly due to that influence. 
Our actual knowledge on this point is small, yet, as there existed 
close personal contacts between the Young Germans and the mem- 
bers of what later became the Young Hegelian group, and as some 
of the former as well as some of the authors of the German works 
on Saint-Simon were Hegelians, 292 there can be little doubt that in 
the group as a whole the interest in Saint-Simonism cannot have 
been much smaller than among the Young Germans. 

The period of German thought which is still so little explored and 
yet so crucial for the understanding of the later developments is the 
eighteen-thirties, during which it seems the seeds were sown which 
bore fruit only in the next decade. 293 We meet here with the difficulty 


that after the Saint-Simonians had discredited themselves, people be- 
came most reluctant to acknowledge any indebtedness, especially as 
the Prussian censorship was likely to object to any reference to that 
dangerous group. As early as 1834, G. Kuehne, a Hegelian philoso- 
pher closely connected with the Young Germans, said of Saint- 
Simonism, "the French counterpart of Hegelianism," that "it will 
scarcely any longer be permissible to mention the name, yet the basic 
feature of this view of life, which in this particular form has become 
a caricature, will prove to have been completely embedded in social 
relations." 294 And when we remember that the men who were to 
play the decisive role in the revolt against orthodox Hegelianism and 
in the birth of German socialism, A. Ruge, L. Feuerbach, D. F. 
Strauss, Moses Hess and K. Rodbertus, were all in their twenties 
when the rage for Saint-Simonism swept through Germany, 295 it 
seems almost certain that they all imbibed Saint-Simonian doctrine at 
the time. Only of one of them, although the one from whom socialist 
doctrines are known to have spread more than from anybody else in 
the Germany of the time, Moses Hess, is it definitely known that he 
visited Paris in the early 'thirties, 296 and the traces of Saint-Simonian 
and Fourierist doctrines can easily be seen in his first book of 
1837 297 j n t h e case O f some O f the others, as particularly in that of 
the most influential of the Young Hegelians, Ludwig Feuerbach, in 
whom Positivism and Hegelianism were so completely combined and 
who exercised great influence on Marx and Engels, we have no di- 
rect evidence of his having known the Saint-Simonian writings. It 
would be even more significant, if this Hegelian, who in providing a 
positivist Weltanschauung for the next generations of German scien- 
tists was to play a role similar to that of Comte in France, had ar- 
rived at his view independently of the contemporary movements in 
that country. But it seems practically certain that he must have come 
to know them in the formative period of his thought. It is hard to 
believe that the young university lecturer in philosophy, who, in the 
summer of 1832, when Germany was reverberating with discussions 
of Saint-Simonism, spent months in Frankfurt reading to prepare 
himself for an intended visit to Paris, 298 should, almost alone among 
men of his kind, have escaped their influence. It seems much more 
likely that, as in the case of others, it was precisely the fame of this 


school which attracted him to Paris. And although the intended visit 
did not take place, Feuerbach probably absorbed much of Saint- 
Simonian thought at that time and thus prepared himself to replace 
the Saint-Simonian influence among his younger contemporaries. If 
one reads his work with this probability in mind, it becomes difficult 
to believe that the obvious resemblances between his work and that 
of Comte are accidental. 299 

An important role in spreading French socialist thought in Ger- 
many during this period was also played by various members of the 
large colony of German journeymen in Paris, whose organizations 
became so important for the growth of the socialist movement and 
among whom for a time W. Weitling was the outstanding figure. 300 
He and numerous other travelers must have provided a continuous 
stream of information about the development of French doctrine, 
even before, in the beginning of the 'forties, Lorenz von Stein and 
Karl Grim went to Paris for a systematic study of French socialism. 
With the appearance of the two books 301 which were the results of 
these visits, particularly with Lorenz von Stein's most detailed and 
sympathetic account in his widely read Socialism and Communism 
in Present-Day France (1842), the whole of Saint-Simonian doc- 
trine became common property in Germany. That Stein incidentally 
another Hegelian who was most ready to absorb and spread Saint- 
Simonian ideas was, with Feuerbach, one of the strongest influences 
that were brought to bear on Karl Marx's early development is well 
known. 302 Yet the belief that it was only through Stein and Grim 
(and later, perhaps, Thierry and Mignet) that Marx made his ac- 
quaintance with Saint-Simonian ideas and that he studied them at 
first hand only later in Paris, is probably mistaken. It seemed certain 
that he was directly affected by the early wave of Saint-Simonian en- 
thusiasm when he was a boy of thirteen or fourteen. He himself told 
his friend, the Russian historian M. Kowalewski, how his paternal 
friend and later father-in-law, Baron Ludwig von Westphalen, had 
been infected by the general enthusiasm and had talked to the boy 
about the new ideas. 303 The fact, often noted by German scholars, 804 
that many parts of Marx's doctrine, particularly the theory of the 
class struggle and certain aspects of his interpretation of history, bear 
a much closer resemblance to those of Saint-Simon than to those of 


Hegel, becomes even more interesting when we realize that the influ- 
ence of Saint-Simon on Marx seems to have preceded that of Hegel. 
Friedrich Engels, in whose separate writings Saint-Simonian ele- 
ments are perhaps even more conspicuous than in those of Marx, 
was at one time closely associated with some of the members of the 
Young German movement, particularly Gutzkow, and later received 
his first introduction to socialist theory from M. Hess. 303 The other 
leaders of German socialist thought are similarly indebted. How 
closely most of Rodbertus' doctrines resemble those of the Saint- 
Simonians has often been noticed and, in view of the whole situation, 
there can be little doubt about the direct derivation. 806 Among the 
leading members of the active socialist movement in Germany, we 
know at least of W. Liebknecht that he steeped himself in Saint- 
Simonian doctrine when still very young, 307 while Lassalle received 
most of it from his masters Lorenz von Stein and Louis Blanc. 308 ' 809 

5. We have not yet said anything about the relations of Saint- 
Simonism to later French socialist schools. But this part of their in- 
fluence is on the whole so well known that we can be brief. The only 
one of the early French socialists who was independent of Saint- 
Simon was of course his contemporary Charles Fourier 31 who, 
with Robert Owen and Saint-Simon, is usually regarded as one of the 
three founders of socialism. But although the Saint-Simonians bor- 
rowed from him some elements of their doctrines particularly with 
respect to the relations between the sexes neither he nor, for that 
matter, Robert Owen, contributed much to that aspect of socialism 
which is relevant here: the deliberate organisation and direction of 
economic activity. His contribution there is more of a negative char- 
acter. A fanatic for economy, he could see nothing but waste in the 
competitive institutions and surpassed even the Saint-Simonians in his 
belief in the unbounded possibilities of technological progress. There 
was indeed much of the engineer mentality in him and, like Saint- 
Simon, he recruited his pupils largely among the polytechnicians. He 
is probably the earliest representative of the myth of "scarcity in the 
midst of plenty," which to the engineering mind seemed as obvious 
120 years ago as it does now. 
Victor Considerant, the leader of the Fourierist school which gave 


their doctrines more coherence than did their master, was a poly- 
technician, and most of the influential members, like Transon and 
Lechevalier, were old Saint-Simonians. 311 Of the rival socialist sects 
nearly all the leaders were former Saint-Simonians who had devel- 
oped particular aspects of that doctrine: Leroux, Cabet, Buchez and 
Pecqueur, or, like Louis Blanc, whose Organisation du Travail is pure 
Saint-Simonism, had borrowed extensively from it. Even the most 
original of the later French socialists, Proudhon, however much he 
may have contributed to political doctrine, was in his properly social- 
ist doctrines largely Saint-Simonian. 312 It can be said that by about 
1840 Saint-Simonian ideas had ceased to be the property of a par- 
ticular school and had come to form the basis of all the socialist 
movements. And the socialism of 1848 apart from the strong 
democratic and anarchistic elements which by then had been carried 
into it as new and alien elements was in doctrine and personnel still 
largely Saint-Simonian. 

6. Although there is already some danger that we may appear 
unduly to exaggerate the importance of that little group of men, we 
have by no means yet surveyed the full extent of their influence. To 
be inspirers of practically all socialist movements 313 during the past 
hundred years would be enough to secure them an important place 
in history. The influence which Saint-Simon exercised on the study of 
social problems through Comte and Thierry, and the Saint-Simonians 
through Quetelet and Le Play is hardly less important and will oc- 
cupy us again. A full account of the spreading of their ideas through 
Europe would have to give considerable attention to the profound 
influence they exercised on G. Mazzini, 314 the whole Young Italian 
Movement, Silvio Pellico, Gioberti, Garibaldi, and others 315 in Italy, 
and to trace their effects on such divers figures as A. Strindberg in 
Sweden, 316 A. Herzen in Russia, 317 and others in Spain and South 
America. 318 Nor can we stop here to consider the frequent occur- 
rence of similar types who sometime rallied to the Saint-Simonian 
flag as did the Belgian industrialist, sociologist and benefactor Ernest 
Solvay, 319 or the Neo-Saint-Simoniens who in post-war France pub- 
lished a new Producteur Such conscious or unconscious re-births 
we meet throughout the last hundred years. 321 


There is, however, one direct effect of Saint-Simonian teaching 
which deserves more consideration: the founders of modern social- 
ism also did much to give Continental capitalism its peculiar form; 
"monopoly capitalism," or "finance capitalism," growing up through 
the intimate connection between banking and industry (the banks 
organizing industrial concerns as the largest shareholders of the com- 
ponent firms), the rapid development of joint-stock enterprises and 
the large railway combines are largely Saint-Simonian creations. 

The history of this is mainly one of the Credit Mobilier type of 
bank, the kind of combined deposit and investment institution which 
was first created by the brothers Pereire in France and then imi- 
tated under their personal influence or by other Saint-Simonians al- 
most all over the European Continent. One might almost say that 
after the Saint-Simonians had failed to bring about the reforms they 
desired through a political movement, or after they had grown older 
and more worldly, they undertook to transform the capitalist system 
from within and thus to apply as much of their doctrines as they 
could by individual effort. And it cannot be denied that they suc- 
ceeded in changing the economic structure of the Continental coun- 
tries into something quite different from the English type of competi- 
tive capitalism. Even if the Credit Mobilier of the Pereires ultimately 
failed, it and its industrial concerns became the model on which the 
banking and capital structure in most of the industrial countries of 
Europe were developed, partly by other Saint-Simonians. For the 
Pereires the aim of their Credit Mobilier was most definitely to create 
a center of administration and control which was to direct according 
to a coherent program the railway systems, the town planning activi- 
ties and the various public utilities and other industries which by a 
systematic policy of mergers they attempted to consolidate into a 
few large undertakings. 322 In Germany G. Mevissen and A. Oppen- 
heim, who had early come under Saint-Simonian influence, went 
similar ways with the foundation of the Darmstaedter Bank and other 
banking ventures. 323 In Holland other Saint-Simonians worked in the 
same direction, 324 and in Austria, 325 Italy, Switzerland and Spain 32 * 
the Pereires or their subsidiaries or connections created similar insti- 
tutions. What is known as the "German" type of bank with its close 
connection with industry and the whole system of Effektenkapitalis- 


mus as it has been called is essentially the realization of Saint-Simon- 
ian plans. 327 This development was closely connected with the other 
favorite activity of the Saint-Simonians in later years, railway con- 
struction, 328 and their interest in public works of all kinds, 329 which, 
as years went by, became more and more their chief interest. As En- 
fantin organized the Paris-Lyon-Mediterranee railway system, the 
Pereires built railways in Austria, Switzerland, Spain and Russia and 
P. Talabot in Italy, employing as engineers on the spot other Saint- 
Simonians to carry out their directions. Enfantin, looking back at the 
works of the Saint-Simonians in late life, was well entitled to say 
that they had "covered the earth with a net-work of railways, gold, 
silver, and electricity." 38 

If with their far-flung plans for industrial organization they did not 
succeed in creating large combines, as was later done with the assist- 
ance of the Governments in the process of cartelization, this was 
largely due to the policy of Free Trade on which France had em- 
barked and of which some of the old Saint-Simonians, particularly 
M. Chevalier, but also the Pereires, were still among the chief ad- 
vocates. But already others from the same circle, notably Pecqueur, 331 
were agitating in the same direction as their friend Friedrich List in 
Germany. Yet they could not succeed till another branch from the 
same stem, positivism and "historicism," had succeeded in effectively 
discrediting "orthodox" political economy. The arguments, however, 
which were later to justify a policy of supporting the growth of cartels 
were already created by the Saint-Simonians. 

However far their practical influence extended, it was greatest in 
France during the second Empire. During this period they had not 
only the support of the Press because some of the leading journalists 
were old Saint-Simonians; 332 but the most important fact was that 
Napoleon III himself was so profoundly influenced by Saint-Simonian 
ideas that Saint-Beuve could call him "Saint-Simon on horseback." 333 
He remained on friendly terms with some of its members and even 
committed himself to part of their ideas in his programmatic Idtes 
Napoleoniennes and some other pamphlets. 334 It is thus not surprising 
that the years of the second Empire became the great period of the 
Saint-Simonian realisations. So closely indeed did they become asso- 


elated with the regime that its end meant more or less also the end 
of their direct influence in France. 335 

When to this influence of the French Empire we add the facts that 
Bismarck's social policy and ideas were largely derived from Lassalle 
and thus via Louis Blanc, Lorenz von Stein and Rodbertus from 
Saint-Simon, 336 and that the theory of the soziale Konigtum and state 
socialism, which guided the execution of that policy, can be traced, 
through L. von Stein and Rodbertus and others, to the same 
source, 337 we begin to get the measure of this influence in the nine- 
teenth century. Even if this influence was tempered by others which 
in any case would have worked in the same direction, the statement 
of the German K. Grim, which may conclude this survey, appears 
certainly in no way to exaggerate their importance. "Saint-Simon- 
ism," he wrote in 1845, "is like a seed-pod that has been opened and 
whose husk has been lost, while the individual seeds have found soil 
everywhere and have come up, one after the other." And in his enu- 
meration of all the different movements which have been thus fer- 
tilized, we find for the first time the term "scientific socialism," S38 
applied to the work of Saint-Simon who "had throughout his life been 
searching for the new science." 



1. Eight years after the first Systeme de politique positive 339 there 
began to appear that work of Comte to which his fame is mainly due. 
The Cours de philosophie positive, the literary version of the series 
of lectures which he had first started in 1826, and then, after re- 
covery from his mental illness, delivered in 1829, extended to six 
volumes which appeared between 1830 and 1842. 340 In devoting the 
best years of his manhood to this theoretical task, Comte remained 
faithful to the conviction which had led to his break with Saint- 
Simon: that the political reorganization of society could be achieved 
only after the spiritual foundation had been laid by a reorganization 
of all knowledge. 341 But he never lost sight of the political task. The 
main philosophical work was duly followed by the definite Systeme 
de politique positive (4 vols., 1851-1854) which, in spite of all its 
bizarre excrescences, is a consistent execution of the plans of his 
youth. And if his death in 1857 had not prevented it, this would 
have been followed by the third part of the original plan, a similarly 
elaborate treatise on technology or "the action of man upon nature." 
No attempt can be made here to give an adequate summary of the 
whole of Comte's philosophy or of its evolution. We are concerned 
only with the birth of the new discipline, of which Saint-Simon and 
the younger Comte had only dreamt but which the latter's mature 
works brought into existence. Yet, as the whole of Comte's work is 
directed towards this end, this is not a sufficient restriction of our 
task. We shall have to confine ourselves to a consideration of those 
aspects of his immense work which, either because of their influence 
on other leading thinkers of the period, or because they are particu- 
larly representative of the intellectual tendencies of the age, are of 


special significance. They concern mainly the methods appropriate 
to the study of social phenomena, a subject which is extensively 
treated in the Cours. But it should perhaps be pointed out that it is 
because the subjects which mainly concern us are treated in that 
work that we shall confine ourselves to its contents, and that we can- 
not accept the belief, at one time widely held, that there is a funda- 
mental break between it and Comte's later work, brought about by 
the increasingly pathological state of his mind. 342 

A few further facts of Comte's life may be recalled here which will 
help to understand his views and the extent and limits of his influ- 
ence. The most important feature of his career is, perhaps, that 
trained as a mathematician he remained one by profession. Through 
the greater part of his life he derived his income from coaching and 
examining in mathematics for the Ecole polytechnique but the pro- 
fessorship at the institution which he coveted remained denied to 
him. The repeated disappointments and the quarrels caused by his 
recriminations, which in the end lost him even the modest positions 
which he held, explain to some extent his increasing isolation, his 
outspoken -contempt for most of his scientific contemporaries, and 
the almost complete neglect of his work in his own country during 
his life-time. Although in the end he found a few enthusiastic dis- 
ciples, it is on the whole not difficult to see why to most people he 
seems to have appeared a singularly unattractive figure, whose whole 
intellectual style has often repelled those who have most in common 
with him. 343 The man who prided himself that in a few years of his 
youth he had absorbed all the knowledge from which he could con- 
struct a grandiose systematization of all human science and who, 
through a great part of his life, practiced a "cerebral hygiene" con- 
sisting in not reading any new publications, was not likely to be 
readily accepted as that preceptor mundi et universae scientiae he 
claimed to be. The excessive length and prolixity and the clumsy 
style of his mature works were a further bar to its popularity. Yet if 
this restricted the number of people who became directly acquainted 
with his work, it was made up for by the profound effect it had on 
some of the most influential thinkers of the age. Although largely in- 
direct, his influence is among the most potent in the nineteenth cen- 
tury, certainly where the study of social phenomena is concerned. 


2. The whole of Comte's philosophy hinges, of course, upon the 
celebrated law of the three stages which we have already met in his 
early essays. His very task is determined for him by that law: all the 
simpler sciences like physics, chemistry, and biology having reached 
the positive stage, it was reserved for Comte to do the same for the 
crowning science of the human race and thus to complete the main 
development of the human mind. The stress which Comte himself 
and still more his interpreters have put on the three separate stages 
is, however, rather misleading. The great contrast is between, on the 
one hand, the theological and the metaphysical stage (the latter being 
a mere "modification" 344 of the first), and, on the other, the positive 
stage. What he is concerned with is the continuous and gradual 
emancipation from the anthropomorphic interpretation of all phe- 
nomena 345 which each science completely achieves only as it reaches 
the positive stage. The metaphysical stage is no more than the phase 
of dissolution of the theological stage, the critical phase in which 
man has already abandoned the cruder personalistic view which seeks 
spirits and deities in all phenomena, but has merely replaced them 
with abstract entities or essences which have as little place in the 
truly positivist view of science. In the positive phase every attempt 
to explain phenomena by causes or a statement of the "mode of 
production" is abandoned; 346 it aims at directly connecting the ob- 
served phenomena by rules about the coexistence or sequence or, to 
use a modern phrase not yet used by Comte, at merely "describing" 
their interrelations by general and invariable laws. In other words, 
since the habits of thought which man had acquired in interpreting 
the actions of his own kind had long held up the study of external 
nature, and the latter had only made real progress in proportion as it 
got rid of this human habit, the way to progress in the study of man 
must be the same: we must cease to consider man anthropomorphi- 
cally and must treat him as if we knew about him as little as we 
know about external nature. Although Comte does not say so in so 
many words, he comes very near doing so, and therefore one cannot 
help wondering how he could have failed to see the paradoxical na- 
ture of this conclusion. 847 

But that in the positive treatment of social phenomena man must 
not be treated differently from the way in which we approach the 


phenomena of inanimate nature is only a negative characteristic of 
the character which the new "natural science" 348 of society will as- 
sume. We have yet to see what the positive characteristics of the 
"positive" method are. This is a far more difficult task, as Comte's 
statements on most of the epistemological problems involved are dis- 
tressingly na'ive and unsatisfactory. The basis of Comte's views is 
the apparently simple contention that "the fundamental character of 
all positive philosophy is to regard all phenomena as subject to in- 
variable natural laws, whose precise discovery and reduction to the 
smallest number possible is the aim of all our effort." 349 All science 
deals with observed facts, 350 and, as he states in a sentence which he 
quotes with pride from his essay of 1825, "any proposition which 
does not admit of being reduced to a simple enunciation of fact, 
special or general, can have no real or intelligible sense." 351 But the 
question to which it is exceedingly difficult to find an answer in 
Comte's work is what precisely is meant by the "phenomena" which 
are all subject to invariable laws, or what he regards as "facts." The 
statement that all phenomena are subject to invariable natural laws 
clearly makes sense only if we are given some guidance on what in- 
dividual events are to be regarded as the same phenomena. It evi- 
dently cannot mean that everything which appears the same to our 
senses must behave in the same manner. The task of science is pre- 
cisely to reclassify the sense impressions on the basis of their co- 
existence with or succession to others so as to make it possible to 
establish regularities for the behavior of the newly constructed units 
of reference. But this is exactly what Comte objects to. The con- 
struction of such new entities as the "ether" is definitely a metaphysi- 
cal procedure and any attempt to explain the "mode of production" 
of the phenomena as distinct from the study of the laws which con- 
nect the directly observed facts is to be proscribed. The emphasis 
lies on the establishment of direct relationship among the immedi- 
ately given facts. But what these facts (which may be "particular" or 
"general"!) are seems to constitute no problem for Comte, who ap- 
proaches the question with an entirely naive and uncritical realism. 
As in the whole of 19th century positivism, 352 this concept is left ex- 
ceedingly obscure. 


3. The only indication of what is meant by the term "fact" as 
used by Comte we obtain from its regular conjunction with the ad- 
jective "observed," together with his discussion of what he means by 
observation. This is of great importance for its meaning in the field 
with which we are concerned, the study of human and social phe- 
nomena. "True observation," we are told, "must necessarily be ex- 
ternal to the observer" and the "famous internal observation is no 
more than a vain parody of it," which presupposes the "ridiculously 
contradictory situation of our intelligence contemplating itself during 
the habitual performance of its own activity." 353 Comte accordingly 
consistently denies the possibility of all psychology, that "last trans- 
formation of theology," 354 or at least of all introspective knowledge 
of the human mind. There are only two ways in which the phe- 
nomena of the individual mind can properly become the object of 
positive study: either through the study of the organs which produce 
them, that is through "phrenological psychology"; 355 or, since "af- 
fective and intellectual functions" have the peculiar characteristic of 
"not being subject to direct observation during their performance," 
through the study of "their more or less immediate and more or less 
durable results" 356 which would seem to mean what is now called 
the behaviorist approach. To these only two legitimate ways of study- 
ing the phenomena of the individual mind is later added, as the re- 
sult of the creation of sociology, the study of the "collective mind," 
the only form of psychology proper which is admitted into the posi- 
tive system. 

As regards the first of these aspects we need here say no more 
than that it is remarkable that even Comte should have fallen so 
completely under the influence of the founder of "phrenology," the 
"illustrious Gall" whose "immortal works are irrevocably impressed 
upon the human mind," 857 as to believe that his attempt at localiz- 
ing particular mental "faculties" in particular parts of the brain 
should provide an adequate substitute for all other forms of psy- 

The "behaviorist" approach in Comte deserves rather more atten- 
tion, because in this primitive form it shows particularly clearly its 
weakness. Only a few pages after Comte has confined the study of 
the individual mind to the observation of its "more or less immediate 


and more or less durable results" this becomes the direct observation 
of "the series of intellectual and moral acts, which belongs more to 
natural history proper" and which he seems to regard as in some 
sense objectively given and known without any use of introspection 
or any other means different from "external observation." Thus Comte 
not only tacitly admits intellectual phenomena among his "facts" 
which are to be treated like any objectively observed facts of nature; 
he even admits, to all intents and purposes, that our knowledge of 
man, which we possess only because we are men ourselves and think 
like other men, is an indispensable condition of our interpretation of 
social phenomena. It can only mean this when he emphasizes that 
wherever we have to deal with "animal" life (as distinguished from 
merely vegetative life, i.e., those phenomena which appear only in 
the higher part of the zoological scale), 358 investigation cannot suc- 
ceed unless we begin with "the consideration of man, the sole being 
where this order of phenomena can ever be directly intelligible." 359 

4. Comte's theory of the three stages is closely connected with 
the second 'main characteristic of his system, his classification, or the 
theory of the "positive hierarchy," of the sciences. In the beginning 
of the Cours he still plays with the Saint-Simonian idea of the unifi- 
cation of all sciences by reducing all phenomena to one single law, 
the law of gravitation. 360 But gradually he abandons this belief and 
in the end it becomes even the subject of violent denunciation as an 
"absurd Utopia." 861 Instead, the "fundamental" or theoretical sci- 
ences (as distinguished from their concrete applications) are ar- 
ranged in a single linear order of decreasing generality and increas- 
ing complexity, beginning with mathematics (including theoretical 
mechanics) and leading through astronomy, physics, chemistry, and 
biology (which includes all study of man as an individual) to the 
new and final science of social physics or sociology. As each of these 
fundamental sciences is "based" on those preceding it in the hier- 
archical order, in the sense that it makes use of all the results of the 
preceding sciences plus some new elements peculiar to itself, it is an 
"indispensable complement of the law of the three stages" that the 
different sciences can reach the positive stage only successively in this 
"invariable and necessary order." But as the last of these sciences has 


for its object the growth of the human mind and therefore particu- 
larly the development .of science itself, it becomes, once established, 
the universal science which will progressively tend to absorb all 
knowledge in its system, although this ideal may never be fully 

Here we are interested only in the meaning of the assertion that 
sociology "rests" on the results of all other sciences and therefore 
could only be created after all the other sciences had reached the 
positive stage. This has nothing to do with the undeniable contention 
that the biological study of man as one of the most complicated or- 
ganisms will have to make use of the results of all the other natural 
sciences. Comte's sociology, as we shall see presently, does not deal 
with man as a physical unit but with the evolution of the human mind 
as a manifestation of the "collective organism" which mankind as a 
whole constitutes. It is the study of the organization of society and 
the laws of the evolution of the human mind which are supposed to 
require the use of the results of all the other sciences. Now this 
would be justified if Comte really contended that the aim of sociology 
(and that part of biology which in his system replaces individual 
psychology) was to explain mental phenomena in physical terms, 
that is, if he wanted seriously to carry out his early dreams of unifi- 
cation of all sciences on the basis of some single universal law. 362 
But this he has explicitly abandoned. His schematism leads him in- 
deed to assert that none of the phenomena belonging to any of the 
sciences higher up in his hierarchy can ever fully be reduced to, or 
explained in terms of, the preceding sciences. It is just as impossible 
to explain sociological phenomena purely in biological terms as, in 
his opinion, it will remain forever impossible to reduce chemical phe- 
nomena altogether to physical. While there will always be sociologi- 
cal laws which cannot be reduced to mechanical or biological laws, 
this break between sociology and biology is no different from the pre- 
sumed difference between chemistry and physics. 

When, however, Comte tries to prove his contention that sociology 
depends on a sufficient development of the other sciences, he fails 
completely, and the examples he gives as illustrations are almost 
childish. That in order to understand any social phenomena we have 
to know the explanation of the change of day and night and of the 


changes of the seasons "by the circumstances of the earth's daily ro- 
tation and annual movements," or that "the very conception of the 
stability in human association could not be positively established till 
the discovery of gravitation," 363 is simply not true. The results of the 
natural sciences may be essential data for sociology to the extent to 
which they actually affect the actions of the men who use them. But 
that is true, whatever the state of natural knowledge is, and there is 
no reason why the sociologist need know more of natural science 
than those whose actions he tries to explain, and therefore no reason 
why the development of the study of society should have to wait on 
the natural sciences having reached a certain stage of development. 

Comte claims that with the application of the positive method to 
social phenomena the unity of method of all sciences is established. 
But beyond the general characteristic of the positive method, "to 
abandon, as necessarily vain, all search for causes, be it primary or 
final, and to confine itself to the study of the invariable relations 
which constitute the effective laws of all observable events," 364 it is 
difficult to say in what precisely this positive method consists. It cer- 
tainly is not, as one might expect, the universal application of mathe- 
matical methods. Although mathematics is to Comte the source of 
the positive method, the field where it appeared first and in its purest 
form, 365 he does not believe that it can be usefully applied in the 
more complicated subjects, even chemistry, 366 and he is scornful 
about the attempts to apply statistics to biology 367 or the calculus of 
probability to social phenomena. 368 Even observation, the one com- 
mon element of all sciences, does not appear in the same form in all 
of them. As the sciences become more complicated, new methods of 
observation become available while others appropriate to the less 
complicated phenomena cease to be useful. Thus, while in astronomy 
the mathematical method and pure observation rule, in physics and 
chemistry the experiment comes in as a new help. And as we pro- 
ceed further, biology brings the comparative method and sociology, 
finally, the "historical method," while mathematics and the experi- 
ment become in turn inapplicable. 869 

There is one more aspect of the hierarchy of the sciences which 
must be briefly mentioned, as it is relevant to points which we shall 
presently have to consider. As we ascend the hierarchical scale of the 


sciences, and the phenomena with which they deal become more com- 
plex, they also become more subject to modification by human ac- 
tion and at the same time less "perfect" and therefore more in need 
of improvement by human control. Comte has nothing but contempt 
for people who admire the "wisdom of nature," and he is quite cer- 
tain that a few competent engineers in creating an organism for a 
particular task would do infinitely better. 370 And the same applies 
necessarily to the most complicated and therefore most imperfect of 
all natural phenomena, human society. The paradox that the instru- 
ment of the human mind, which according to this theory should be 
the most imperfect of all phenomena, should yet at the same time 
have the unique power to control and improve itself, does not trouble 
Comte in the least. 

5. There is one respect in which Comte not only admits but even 
stresses a difference in the method, not only of sociology, but of all 
organic sciences from that of inorganic sciences. Yet, although this 
break occurs between chemistry and biology, the importance of this 
"inversion" of procedure, as Comte calls it himself, is of even 
greater importance with respect to sociology and we shall quote in 
full the passage in which he himself explains it with direct reference 
to the study of social phenomena. "There exists necessarily," he ex- 
plains, "a fundamental difference between the whole of inorganic 
philosophy and the whole of organic philosophy. In the first, where 
solidarity between the phenomena, as we have shown, is little pro- 
nounced, and can only little affect the study of the subject, we have 
to explore a system where the elements are better known than the 
whole, and are usually even alone directly observable. But in the sec- 
ond, on the contrary, where man and society constitute the principal 
object, the opposite procedure becomes most often the only rational 
one, as another consequence of the same logical principle, because 
the whole of the object is here Certainly much better known and more 
immediately accessible." 371 

This astounding assertion that where we have to deal with social 
phenomena the whole is better known than the parts is put forward 
as an indisputable axiom without much explanation. It is of crucial 
importance for the understanding of the new science of sociology as 


created by Comte and accepted by his direct successors. Its signifi- 
cance is further enhanced by the fact that this collectivist approach 
is characteristic of most of the students who approach such phe- 
nomena from what we have called a "scientistic" point of view. 872 
But it must be admitted that it is not easy to see why this should be 
so, and Comte gives us little help in this respect. 

One possible justification of this view which would occur first to 
the modern mind, played at best a very minor role in Comte's 
thought: the idea that mass phenomena may show statistical regu- 
larities while the composing elements seem to follow no recognizable 
law. 373 This idea, made familiar by Comte's contemporary Quete- 
let, 374 is certainly not the foundation of Comte's own argument. It is 
indeed more than doubtful whether Comte ever took notice of Quete- 
let's work beyond showing indignation about the latter's using, in the 
subtitle of a work dealing with "mere statistics," 375 the term "social 
physics," which Comte regarded as his intellectual property. But 
though Quetelet seems thus to have been indirectly responsible 
for the substitution of the new word "sociology," 376 for what Comte 
till well on 'in the fourth volume of the Cours still describes as "so- 
cial physics," 377 his main idea, which should have fitted so well into 
Comte's general approach and was to play so important a role in 
later scientistic sociology, found no place in Comte's system. 

We shall probably have to see the explanation in Comte's general 
attitude of treating whatever phenomena a science had to deal with 
as immediately given "things" and in his desire to establish a simi- 
larity between biology, the science immediately beneath sociology in 
the positive hierarchy, and the science of the "collective organism." 
And since in biology it was unquestionably true that the organisms 
were better known to us than their parts, the same had to be asserted 
of sociology. 

6. The exposition of Comte's sociology, which was to constitute 
the fourth volume of the Cours, extended in fact to three volumes 
each considerably longer than any of the first three dealing with all 
the other sciences. The fourth volume, published in 1839, contains 
mainly the general considerations on the new science and its static 
part. The two remaining ones contain a very full and detailed ex- 


position of sociological dynamics, that general theory of the history 
of the human mind, which was the main aim of Comte's labors. 

The division of the subject into statics and dynamics, 378 which 
Comte believes to be appropriate to all sciences, he takes over, not 
directly from mechanics, but from biology to which it had been ap- 
plied by the physiologist De Blainville, whose work had influenced 
Comte to an extent equaled only by Lagrange, Fourier, and Gall. 879 
The distinction, which according to De Blainville in biology corre- 
sponds to that between anatomy and physiology, or organization and 
life, is made to correspond in sociology with the two great watch- 
words of positivism, order and progress. Static sociology deals with 
the laws of co-existence of social phenomena, while dynamic soci- 
ology is concerned with the laws of succession in the necessary evo- 
lution of society. 

When it comes to the execution of this scheme it proves, however, 
that Comte has extraordinarily little to say on the static part of his 
subject. His disquisitions about the necessary consensus between all 
the parts of any social system, the idee mere of solidarity as he often 
calls it, which in social phenomena is even more marked than in 
biological, remain pretty empty generalizations, as Comte has no way 
(or intention) of establishing why particular institutions, or which 
kinds of institutions, should necessarily go together, or others be in- 
compatible. The comments on the relations between the individual, 
the family, and society, in the single chapter devoted to social statics, 
rise little above the commonplace. 380 In the discussion of the division 
of labor, although a distant echo of Adam Smith, 381 there is no trace 
of a comprehension of the factors which regulate it; and how little 
he understands them becomes evident when he expressly denies that 
a division of intellectual labor similar to that applying to material 
labor is possible. 882 

The whole of his statics is, however, no more than a brief sketch 
and of minor importance compared with the dynamic part of soci- 
ology, the fulfillment of his main ambition. It is the attempt to prove 
the basic contention, which Comte, as a young man of twenty-six, 
had expressed in a letter to a friend when he promised to show that 
"there were laws governing the development of the human race as 
definite as those determining the fall of a stone." 883 History was to 


be made a science, and the essence of all science is that it should be 
capable of prediction. 384 The dynamic part of sociology was there- 
fore to become a philosophy of history, as it is commonly but some- 
what misleadingly called, or a theory of history as it would be more 
correctly described. The idea which was to inspire so much of the 
thought of the second half of the nineteenth century, was to write 
"abstract history," * 'history without the names of men or even peo- 
ple." 885 The new science was to provide a theoretical scheme, an 
abstract order in which the major changes of human civilization must 
necessarily follow each other. 

The basis of this scheme is of course the law of the three stages 
and the main content of dynamic sociology is a detailed elaboration 
of the law. It is thus a curious feature of the Comtian system that 
this same law which is supposed to prove the necessity of the new 
science is at the same time its main and almost sole result. We need 
not trouble here with its elaboration in detail, beyond saying that in 
Comte's hands human history becomes largely identified with the 
growth of the natural sciences. 386 What is relevant to us are only the 
general implications of the idea of a natural science which deals with 
the laws of intellectual development of the human race, and the 
practical conclusions drawn from it with regard to the future organi- 
zation of society. The idea of recognizable laws, not only of the 
growth of individual minds, but of the development of the knowledge 
of the human race as a whole, presupposes that the human mind 
could, so to speak, look down on itself from a higher plane and be 
able not merely to understand its operation from the inside, but ob- 
serve it, as it were, from the outside. The curious thing about this 
proposition, particularly in its Comtian form, is that although it ex- 
plicitly recognizes that the interactions of individual minds may pro- 
duce something in a sense superior to what an individual mind can 
ever achieve, it yet claims for the same individual mind not only the 
power to grasp this development as a whole and to recognize the 
principle on which it works and even the course it must follow, but 
also the power to control and direct it and thereby to improve uppn 
its uncontrolled working. 

What this belief really amounts to is that the products of the 
process of mind can be comprehended as a whole by a simpler 


process than the laborious one of understanding them, and that the 
individual mind, looking at these results from the outside, can then 
directly connect these wholes by laws applying to them as entities, 
and finally, by extrapolating the observed development, achieve a 
kind of shortcut to the future development. This empirical theory of 
the development of the collective mind is at the same time the most 
naive and the most influential result of the application of the pro- 
cedure of the natural sciences to social phenomena, and of course 
based on the illusion that the phenomena of the mind are in the 
same sense given as objective things, and subject to external observa- 
tion and control as physical phenomena. It follows from this ap- 
proach that our knowledge is to be regarded as "relative" and con- 
ditioned by assignable factors not merely from the point of view 
of some hypothetical more highly organized mind, but from our own 
point of view. It is from this point of view that the belief springs that 
we ourselves can recognize the "mutability" 387 of our mind and of its 
laws and the belief that the human race can undertake to control its 
own development. This idea that the human mind can, as it were, 
lift itself up by its own bootstraps, has remained a dominant char- 
acteristic of most sociology to the present day, 388 and we have here 
the root (or rather one of the roots, the other being Hegel) of that 
modem hubris which has found its most perfect expression in the so- 
called "sociology of knowledge." And the fact that this idea of the 
human mind controlling its own development has from its beginning 
been one of the leading ideas of sociology also provides the link 
which has always connected it with socialist ideals so that in the 
popular mind sociological and socialist often mean the same thing. 389 
It is this search for the "general laws of the continuous variations 
of human opinions" 89 which Comte calls the "historical method," 
the "indispensable complement of the positive logic." 391 But al- 
though, partly under Comte's influence, this is what the term histori- 
cal method increasingly came to mean in the second half of the nine- 
teenth century, we cannot leave this subject without pointing out that 
it is, of course, nearly the opposite of what historical approach really 
means or did mean to the great historians who in the beginning of 
the century tried by the application of the historical method to under- 
stand the genesis of social institutions. 892 


7. It is hardly surprising that, with this ambitious conception of 
the task of the single theoretical science of society which he admits 
into his system, Comte should have nothing but contempt for the al- 
ready existing social disciplines. It would hardly be worth while to 
dwell on this attitude if it were not so characteristic of the view taken 
at all times of the social sciences by men blinded by the scientistic 
prejudice, and if his own efforts had not, at least in part, to be ex- 
plained by his almost complete ignorance of the achievements of the 
then existing social sciences. Some, as particularly the study of lan- 
guage, he regards as hardly worth mentioning. 393 But he takes the 
trouble to denounce political economy at some length, and here his 
severity stands in a strange contrast to his exceedingly slender knowl- 
edge of the object of his abuse. Indeed, as even one of his admirers, 
who has devoted a whole book to Comte's relation to economics, 394 
could not help emphasizing, his knowledge of economics was prac- 
tically non-existent. He knew and even admired Adam Smith, partly 
for his descriptive work in economics, but mainly for his History of 
Astronomy. In his early years he had made the acquaintance of J. B. 
Say and some other members of the same circle, particularly Destutt 
de Tracy. But the latter's treatment of economics in his great treatise 
on "ideology" between logic and morals appeared to Comte merely 
a frank admission of the "metaphysical" character of economics. 395 
For the rest, the economists did not seem to Comte to be worth 
bothering about. He knew a priori that they had merely performed 
their necessary destructive role, typical representatives of the negative 
or revolutionary spirit which was characteristic of the metaphysical 
phase. That no positive contribution to the reorganization of society 
could be expected from them was evident from the fact that they had 
not been trained as scientists: "being almost invariably lawyers or 
literary men, they had no opportunity of discipline in that spirit of 
positive rationality which they suppose they have introduced into 
their researches. Precluded by their education from any idea of scien- 
tific observation of even the smallest phenomena, from any notions 
of natural laws, from all perception of what demonstration is, they 
must obviously be incapable of applying a method in which they had 
no practice to the most difficult of all analyses." 396 Comte indeed 
would admit to the study of sociology only men who had successively 


and successfully mastered all the other sciences and thus properly 
prepared themselves for the most difficult task of the study of the 
most complex of all phenomena. 397 Although the further develop- 
ment of the new science could not again present difficulties as great 
as those he had himself surmounted in first creating it, 398 only the 
very best minds could hope successfuly to grapple with them. The 
special difficulty of this task arises from the absolute necessity of 
dealing with all aspects of society at the same time, a necessity dic- 
tated by the particularly close "consensus" of all social phenomena. 
To have sinned against this principle and to have attempted to deal 
with economic phenomena in isolation, "apart from the analysis of 
the intellectual, moral, and political state of society," 399 is one of his 
main reproaches against the economists. Their "pretended science" 
presents to "all competent and experienced judges most decidedly 
the character of purely metaphysical concepts." 40 "If one considers 
impartially the sterile disputes which divide them concerning the 
most elementary concepts of value, utility, production, etc., one may 
fancy oneself attending the strangest debates of medieval scholastics 
on the fundamental attributes of their metaphysical entities." 401 But 
the main defect of political economy is its conclusion, "the sterile 
aphorism of absolute industrial liberty," 402 the belief that there is no 
need of some "special institution immediately charged with the task 
of regularizing the spontaneous co-ordination" which should be re- 
garded as merely offering the opportunity for imposing real organi- 
zation. 403 And he particularly condemns the tendency of political 
economy to "answer to all complaints that in the long run all classes, 
and especially the one most injured on the existing occasion, will 
enjoy a real and permanent satisfaction; a reply which will be re- 
garded as derisive, as long as man's life is incapable of being indefi- 
nitely lengthened." 404 

8. It cannot be too much emphasized in any discussion of Comte's 
philosophy that he had no use for any knowledge of which he did not 
see the practical use. 405 And "the purpose of the establishment of 
social philosophy is to re-establish order in society." 406 Nothing 
seems to him "more repugnant to the real scientific spirit, not even 
the theological spirit," 407 than disorder of any kind, and nothing is 


perhaps more characteristic of the whole of Comte's work than "the 
inordinate demand for 'unity' and 'systematization' " which J. S. Mill 
described as the fons errorum of all Comte's later speculations. 408 
But even if the "frenzy for regulation" 409 is not quite as preponder- 
ant in the Cours as it became in the Syst&me de philosophic positive, 
the practical conclusions to which the Cours leads, just because they 
are still free from the fantastic exaggeration of the later work, show 
this feature already in a marked degree. With the establishment of 
the "definitive" 41 philosophy, positivism, the critical doctrine which 
has characterized the preceding period of transition has completed 
its historic mission and the accompanying dogma of the unbounded 
liberty of conscience will disappear. 411 To make the writing of the 
Cours possible was, as it were, the last necessary function of "the 
revolutionary dogma of free enquiry," 412 but now that this is 
achieved, the dogma has lost its justification. All knowledge being 
once again unified, as it has not been since the theological stage 
began to decay, the next task is to set up a new intellectual govern- 
ment where only the competent scientists will be allowed to decide 
the difficult social questions. 413 Since their action will in all respects 
be determined by the dictates of science, this will not mean arbitrary 
government, and "true liberty," which is nothing else than "a rational 
submission to the preponderance of the laws of nature," 414 will even 
be increased. 

The detail of the social organization which positive science will im- 
pose need not concern us here. So far as economic life is concerned, 
it still resembles in many respects the earlier Saint-Simonian plans, 
particularly in so far as the leading role of the bankers in guiding in- 
dustrial activity is concerned. 415 But he dissents from the later out- 
right socialism of the Saint-Simonians. Private property is not to be 
abolished, but the rich become the "necessary depositaries of the 
public capitals" 418 and the owning of property a social function. 417 
This is not the only point in which Comte's system resembles the 
later authoritarian socialism which we associate with Prussia rather 
than socialism as we used to know it. In fact in some passages this 
resemblance with Prussian socialism, even down to the very words 
used, is really amazing. Thus when he argues that in the future so- 
ciety the "immoral" concept of individual rights will disappear and 


there will be only duties, 418 or that in the new society there will be 
no private persons but only state functionaries of various units and 
grades, 419 and that in consequence the most humble occupation will 
be ennobled by its incorporation into the official hierarchy just as the 
most obscure soldier has his dignity as a result of the solidarity of 
the military organism, 420 or finally when, in the concluding section 
of the first sketch of the future order, he discovers a "special disposi- 
tion towards command in some and towards obedience in others" and 
assures us that in our innermost heart we all know "how sweet it is 
to obey," 421 we might match almost every sentence with identical 
statements of recent German theoreticians who laid the intellectual 
foundations of the doctrines of the Third Reich. 422 Having been led 
by his philosophy to take over from the reactionary Bonald the view 
that the individual is "a pure abstraction" 423 and society as a whole 
a single collective being, he is of necessity led to most of the char- 
acteristic features of a totalitarian view of society. 

The later development of all this into a new Religion of Humanity 
with a fully developed cult is outside our subject. Needless to say 
that Comte, who was so completely a stranger to the one real cult of 
humanity, tolerance (which he would admit only in indifferent and 
doubtful matters), 424 was not the man to make much of that idea, 
which in itself does not lack a certain greatness. For the rest we can- 
not better summarize this last phase of Comte's thought than by the 
well-known epigram of Thomas Huxley, who described it as "Ca- 
tholicism minus Christianity." 

9. Before we cast a glance on the direct influence of Comte's 
main work we must briefly consider certain simultaneous and in a 
sense parallel efforts which, from the same intellectual background, 
but by a different route, produced an impression which tended to 
strengthen the tendencies of which Comte's work is the main repre- 
sentative. The Belgian astronomer and statistician Quetelet, who 
must be mentioned here in the first place, differs from Comte not 
only by being a great scientist in his own field but also by the great 
contributions which he has made to the methods of social study. He 
did this precisely by that application of mathematics to social study 
which Comte condemned. Through his application of the "Gaussian" 


normal curve of error to the analysis of statistical data he became, 
more than any other single person, the founder of modern statistics 
and particularly of its application to social phenomena. The value of 
this achievement is undisputed and indisputable. But in the general 
atmosphere in which Quetelet's work became known the belief was 
bound to arise that the statistical methods, which he had so success- 
fully applied to some problems of social life, were destined to become 
the sole method of study. And Quetelet himself contributed not a 
little to create that belief. 

The intellectual environment out of which Quetelet rose 425 is ex- 
actly the same as that of Comte: it was the French mathematicians of 
the circle of the Ecole poly technique above all Laplace and 
Fourier, from whom he drew the inspiration for the application of 
the theory of probability to the problem of social statistics, and in 
most respects he, much more than Comte, must be regarded as the 
true continuer of their work and of that of Condorcet. His statistical 
work proper is not our concern. It was the general effect of his dem- 
onstration that something like the methods of the natural sciences 
could be applied to certain mass phenomena of society and of his 
implied and even explicit demand that all problems of social science 
should be treated in a similar fashion, which operated in a direction 
parallel to Comte's teaching. Nothing fascinated the ensuing genera- 
tion so much as Quetelet's "average man" and his celebrated con- 
clusion of his studies of moral statistics that "we pass from one year 
to another with the sad perspective of seeing the same crimes repro- 
duced in the same order and calling down the same punishments in 
the same proportions. Sad condition of humanity! . . . We might 
enumerate in advance how many individuals will stain their hands in 
the blood of their fellows, how many will be forgers, how many will 
be poisoners, almost we can enumerate in advance how many births 
and deaths there should occur. There is a budget which we pay with 
a frightful regularity; it is that of prisons, chains and the scaffold." 427 
His views on the application of the mathematical methods have be- 
come more characteristic of later positivist method than anything de- 
riving directly from Comte: "The more advanced the sciences have 
become, the more they have tended to enter the domain of mathe- 
matics, which is a sort of center towards which they converge. We 


can judge of the perfection to which a science has come by the fa- 
cility, more or less great, with which it may be approached by calcu- 
lation." 428 

Although Comte had condemned this view and particularly all 
attempts to find social laws by means of statistics, his and Quetelef s 
general endeavors to find natural laws of the development of the 
human race as a whole, to extend the Laplacean conception of uni- 
versal determinism to cultural phenomena, and to make mass phe- 
nomena the sole object of the science of society were sufficiently akin 
to lead to a gradual fusion of their doctrines. 

In the same category of contemporary efforts with similar metho- 
dological tendencies we must at least briefly mention the work of 
F. Le Play, polytechnician and ex-Saint-Simonian, whose descriptive 
social surveys became the model of much later sociological work. 
Though differing from Comte as well as Quetelet in more respects 
than they have in common, he contributed like them to the reaction 
against theoretical individualism, classical economics, and political 
liberalism, thus strengthening the particular effects of the scientistic 
influences with which we are here concerned. 429 

10. The tracing of influences is the most treacherous ground in 
the history of thought and we have in the last chapter already so 
much sinned against the canons of caution in this field that we shall 
now be brief. Yet the curious course which Comte's influence took is 
so important for the understanding of the intellectual history of the 
nineteenth century, and the cause of so many still prevailing mis- 
conceptions about his role, that a few more words about it are in- 
dispensable. In France, as already observed, Comte's immediate 
influence on thinkers of importance was small. But, as J. S. Mill 
points out, "the great treatise of M. Comte was scarcely mentioned 
in French literature or criticism, when it was already working pow- 
erfully on the minds of many British students and thinkers." 43 It 
was this influence on Mill himself and a few other leading English 
thinkers which became decisive for Comte's effect on European 
thought. 481 Mill himself, in the sixth book of his Logic, which deals 
with the methods of the moral sciences, became little more than an 
expounder of Comtian doctrine. The philosopher George Lewes and 


George Eliot are some of the better known names of Comte's English 
adherents. And nothing could be more characteristic of the tremen- 
dous impact of Comte on England than that the same Miss Mar- 
tineau who in her younger years had been the faithful and most 
successful popularizer of Ricardo's economics, should become, not 
only the translator and most skilful condenser of Comte's work, but 
also one of his most enthusiastic disciples. As important almost as 
Mill himself for the spreading of positivist views among students of 
social phenomena was their adoption by the historian H. T. Buckle, 
although in this case the influence of Comte was reinforced and per- 
haps outweighed by that of Quetelet. 

It was largely through the medium of these English writers that 
Comtian positivism made its entry into Germany. 432 Mill's Logic, 
Buckle's and Lecky's historical works, and later Herbert Spencer, 
made Comte's ideas familiar to many who were often completely 
unaware of their source. And although it is perhaps doubtful whether 
many of the German scholars who in the second half of the nine- 
teenth century professed views closely similar to Comte's had de- 
rived them directly from him, there were probably in no other coun- 
try a greater number of influential men who tried to reform the social 
sciences on essentially Comtean lines. No other country seems at that 
time to have been more receptive of new ideas, and positivist thought 
together with Quetelet's new statistical methods was definitely the 
fashion of the period and was accepted in Germany with correspond- 
ing enthusiasm. 433 The curious phenomenon that there (and else- 
where) positivist influences should have so readily combined with 
that of Hegel will require separate investigation. 

We have no space here more than briefly to mention the successors 
which in France at last took up the Comtian tradition. Before we 
mention the sociologists proper we must at least mention the names 
of Taine and Renan, both, incidentally, representatives of that curi- 
ous combination of Comtian and Hegelian thought to which we have 
just referred. Of the sociologists almost all the best-known ones (with 
the exception of Tarde), Espinas, L6vy-Bruhl, Durkheim, Simiand, 
stand directly in the Comtian tradition, although in their case, too, 
this has in part come back to France via Germany and with the 
modifications which it there experienced. 434 To attempt to trace this 


later influence of Comte on French thought during the Third Repub- 
lic would mean to write a history of sociology in the country where 
for a time it gained the greatest influence. Many of the best minds 
who devoted themselves to social studies were here attracted by the 
new science and it is perhaps not too much to suggest that the pe- 
culiar stagnation of French economics during that period is at least 
partly due to the predominance of the sociological approach to social 
phenomena. 435 

That Comte's direct influence remained confined to comparatively 
few, but that through these very few it extended exceedingly far, is 
even more true of the present generation than it was of earlier ones. 
There will be few students of the social sciences now who have ever 
read Comte or know much about him. But the number of those who 
have absorbed most of the important elements of his system through 
the intermediation of a few very influential representatives of his 
tradition, such as Henry Carey and T. Veblen 43C in America, J. K. 
Ingram, W. Ashley and L. T. Hobhouse 437 in England, or K. Lam- 
precht 438 and K. Breysig in Germany, is very large indeed. Why this 
influence of Comte should so frequently have been much more effec- 
tive in an indirect manner, those who have attempted to study his 
work will have no difficulty in understanding. 

Part Three 




THE DISCUSSIONS of every age are filled with the issues on which its 
leading schools of thought differ. But the general intellectual atmos- 
phere of the time is always determined by the views on which the 
opposing schools agree. They become the unspoken presuppositions 
of all thought, the common and unquestioningly accepted founda- 
tions on which all discussion proceeds. 

When we no longer share these implicit assumptions of ages long 
past, it is comparatively easy to recognize them. But it is different 
with regard to the ideas underlying the thought of more recent times. 
Here we are frequently not yet aware of the common features which 
the opposing systems of thought shared, ideas which for that very 
reason often have crept in almost unnoticed and have achieved their 
dominance without serious examination. This can be very important 
because, as Bernard Bosanquet once pointed out, "extremes of 
thought may meet in error as well as in truth." * Such errors some- 
times become dogmas merely because they were accepted by the 
different groups who quarreled on all the live issues, and may even 
continue to provide the tacit foundations of thought when most of 
the theories are forgotten which divided the thinkers to whom we 
owe that legacy. 

When this is the case, the history of ideas becomes a subject of 
eminently practical importance. It can help us to become aware of 
much that governs our own thought without our explicitly knowing 
it. It may serve the purposes of a psychoanalytical operation by 
bringing to the surface unconscious elements which determine our 
reasoning, and perhaps assist us to purge our minds from influences 
which seriously mislead us on questions of our own day. 



My purpose is to suggest that we are in such a position. My thesis 
will be that in the field of social thought not only the second half of 
the nineteenth century but also our own age owes much of its char- 
acteristic approach to the agreement between two thinkers who are 
commonly regarded as complete intellectual antipodes: the German 
"idealist" Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and the French "posi- 
tivist" Auguste Comte. In some respects these two men do indeed 
represent such complete extremes of philosophical thought that they 
seem to belong to different ages and scarcely even to talk about the 
same problems. But my concern here will be only incidentally with 
their philosophical systems as a whole. It will be chiefly with their 
influence on social theory. It is in this field that the influence of 
philosophical ideas can be most profound and most lasting. And 
there is, perhaps, no better illustration of the far-reaching effects of 
the most abstract ideas than the one I intend to discuss. 

2. The suggestion that in these manners we have to deal with a 
common influence of Hegel and Comte has still so much the air of a 
paradox that I had better say at once that I am by no means the 
first to notice similarities between them. I could give you a long list, 
and shall presently mention a few outstanding examples, of students 
of the history of ideas who have pointed out such resemblances. The 
curious fact is that these observations have again and again been 
made with the air of surprise and discovery, and that their authors 
always seem a little uneasy about their own temerity and afraid of 
going beyond pointing out a few isolated points of agreement. If I 
am not mistaken, these coincidences go much further, however, and, 
in their effects on the social sciences, were much more important 
than has yet been realized. 

Before I mention some instances of such earlier notice I must, 
however, correct a common mistake which is largely responsible for 
the neglect of the whole issue. It is the belief that the similarities are 
due to an influence which Hegel exercised on Comte. 2 This belief is 
due mainly to the fact that the publication of Comte's ideas is com- 
monly dated from the appearance of the six volumes of his Cours de 
Philosophic Positive from 1830 to 1842, while Hegel died in 1831. 
All the essential ideas of Comte were, however, expounded by him 


as early as 1822 in his youthful System of Positive Polity; 3 and this 
opuscule fondamentale, as he later called it, appeared also as one of 
the works of the Saint-Simonian group and as such probably reached 
a wider audience and exercised a greater influence than the Cours 
immediately did. It seems to me to be one of the most pregnant tracts 
of the nineteenth century, infinitely more brilliant than the now bet- 
ter known ponderous volumes of the Cours. But even the Cours, 
which is little more than an elaboration of the ideas sketched in that 
small tract, was planned as early as 1826 and delivered as a series of 
lectures before a distinguished audience in 1828. 4 Comte's main ideas 
were thus published within a year of Hegel's Philosophy of Law, 
within a couple of years of the Encyklopaedie, and of course before 
the posthumous appearance of the Philosophy of History, to mention 
only Hegel's main works which are relevant here. In other words, 
although Comte was Hegel's junior by twenty-eight years, we must 
regard them to all intents and purposes as contemporaries, and there 
would be about as much justification for thinking that Hegel might 
have been influenced by Comte, as that Comte was influenced by 

You will now appreciate the significance of the first, and in many 
ways the most remarkable, instance in which the similarity between 
the two thinkers was noticed. In 1824 Comte's young pupil Gustave 
d'Eichthal went to study in Germany. In his letters to Comte he soon 
reported excitedly from Berlin about his discovery of Hegel. 5 "There 
is," he wrote with regard to Hegel's lectures on the philosophy of 
history, "a marvelous agreement between your results, even though 
the principles are different, at least in appearance." He went on to 
say that "the identity of results exists even in the practical principles, 
as Hegel is a defender of the governments, that is to say, an enemy of 
the liberals." A few weeks later d'Eichthal was able to report that 
he had presented a copy of Comte's tract to Hegel, who had expressed 
satisfaction and greatly praised the first part, although he had doubts 
about the meaning of the method of observation recommended in 
the second part. And Comte not much later even expressed the naive 
hope that "Hegel seemed to him in Germany the man most capable 
to push the positive philosophy." 6 

The later instances in which the similarity has been noticed are 


numerous, as I have already said. But although such widely used 
books as R. Flint's Philosophy of History 7 and J. T. Merz's History 
of European Thought* comment upon it, and such distinguished 
and diverse scholars as Alfred Fouillee 9 fimile Meyerson, 10 Thomas 
Wittaker, 11 Ernst Troeltsch, 12 and Eduard Spranger 13 have discussed 
it I will keep for a note a score of other names I could mention 14 
little attempt has yet been made at a systematic examination of 
these similarities, though I must not omit mention of Friedrich Ditt- 
mann's comparative study of the philosophies of history of Comte 
and Hegel, 15 on which I shall draw in some measure. 

3. More significant, perhaps, than any list of the names of those 
who have noticed the similarities is the long series of social thinkers 
of the last hundred years who testify to this kinship in a different and 
more effective manner. Indeed, still more surprising than the neglect 
of the similarities in the two original doctrines is the similar failure to 
notice the surprising number of leading figures who succeeded in 
combining in their own thought ideas derived from Hegel and Comte. 
Again, I can quote only a few of the names which belong here. 16 But 
if I tell you that the list includes Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and 
probably Ludwig Feuerbach in Germany, Ernest Renan, Hippolyte 
Taine, and Emile Durkheim in France, Giuseppe Mazzini in Italy 
and I should probably add Benedetto Croce and John Dewey from 
the living you will begin to see how far this influence reaches. When 
later I shall have occasion to show how we can trace to the same 
source such widespread intellectual movements as that peculiarly un- 
historical approach to history which paradoxically is called histori- 
cism, much of what has been known as sociology during the last hun- 
dred years, and especially its most fashionable and most ambitious 
branch, the sociology of knowledge, you will perhaps understand the 
importance which I attach to this combined influence. 

Before addressing myself to my main task, I must go through one 
more preliminary: I ought, in fairness, to acquaint you with a serious 
deficiency with which I approach it. So far as Comte is concerned, it 
is true that I strongly disagree with most of his views. But this disa- 
greement is still of a kind which leaves room for profitable discussion 
because there exists at least some common basis. If it is true that criti- 


cism is worth-while only when one approaches one's object with at 
least this degree of sympathy, I am afraid I cannot claim this quali- 
fication with regard to Hegel. Concerning him I have always felt, not 
only what his greatest British admirer said, that his philosophy was 
u a scrutiny of thought so profound that it was for the most part 
unintelligible," 17 but also what John Stuart Mill experienced who 
"found by actual experience . . . that conversancy with him tends to 
deprave one's intellect." 18 I ought to warn you, therefore, that I do 
not pretend to understand Hegel. But, fortunately for my task, a 
comprehension of his system as a whole is not necessary. I think I 
know well enough those parts of his doctrines which have, or are 
supposed to have, influenced the development of the social sciences. 
Indeed, they are so well known that my task will consist largely in 
showing that many of the developments commonly ascribed to 
Hegel's influence might well in fact be due to Comte's. It seems to 
me that it is largely the support which the Hegelian tradition re- 
ceived from this quarter that accounts for the otherwise inexplicable 
fact that in the social sciences Hegelian thought and language con- 
tinued to rule for so long after, in the other fields of science, the rule 
of his philosophy had long been superseded by that of exact science. 

4. There is one feature, however, which their general theories of 
knowledge have in common, and which I must mention for its own 
sake as well as because it will give me an opportunity to refer to an 
interesting question which I shall not have time to consider elsewhere 
in this paper: the original source of their common ideas. 

The point of their doctrines to which I refer is one on which at 
first they may appear to hold diametrically opposed views: their 
attitude to empirical research. For Comte this constitutes the whole 
of science; for Hegel it is entirety outside what he calls science, 
although he by no means underrates the importance of factual knowl- 
edge within its sphere. What brings them together is their belief 
that empirical science must be purely descriptive, confined to estab- 
lishing regularities of the observed phenomena. They are both strict 
phenomenalists in this sense, denying that empirical science can 
proceed from description to explanation. That the positivist Comte 
regards all explanation, all discussion of the manner in which the 


phenomena are produced, as futile metaphysics, while Hegel reserves 
it to his idealistic philosophy of nature, is a different matter. In their 
views on the functions of empirical research they agree almost com- 
pletely, as Emile Meyerson has beautifully shown. 19 When Hegel 
argues, for example, that "empirical science has no business to assert 
the existence of anything that is not given to sense perception," 20 
he is as much a positivist as Comte. 

Now this phenomenalist approach to the problems of empirical 
science derives in modern times without question from Descartes, to 
whom both philosophers are directly indebted. And the same is, I 
believe, true of the second basic feature which they have in common 
and which will show up strongly in the more detailed points on which 
they agree: their common rationalism, or better, intellectualism. It 
was Descartes who first combined these apparently incompatible ideas 
of a phenomenalist or sensualist approach to physical science and a 
rationalist view of man's task and functions. 21 With respect to the 
points in which we are chiefly interested, it was mainly through 
Montesquieu, 22 d'Alembert, 23 Turgot, and Condorcet in France, 
Herder, 24 Kant, and Fichte in Germany, that the Cartesian heritage 
was passed on to Hegel and Comte. But what in those men had been 
merely bold and stimulating suggestions became with our two philos- 
ophers the bases of the two ruling systems of thought of their time. 
In thus stressing the common Cartesian origin of what I believe to be 
the common errors of Hegel and Comte, I wish, of course, not in the 
least to deprecate the great services which Descartes has rendered 
to modern thought. But as has been true with so many fertile ideas, 
a stage is often reached when their very success brings about their 
application to fields in which they are no longer appropriate. And 
this, I believe, is what Comte and Hegel have done. 

5. When we turn to the field of social theory we find that the cen- 
tral ideas which Hegel and Comte have in common are so closely re- 
lated that we can almost express them all in one sentence, if we give 
due weight to every single word. Such a statement would have to run 
somewhat like this: the central aim of all study of society must be to 
construct a universal history of all mankind, understood as a scheme 
of the necessary development of humanity according to recognizable 


laws. It is characteristic of the extent to which their ideas have en- 
tered into the whole intellectual make-up of our time, that, thus 
baldly stated, they now sound almost commonplace. Only when we 
analyze in greater detail the meaning and the implications of this 
statement do we become aware of the extraordinary nature of the 
undertaking which it proposes. 

The laws which both seek and it makes little difference that 
Comte presents them as "natural laws" 25 while for Hegel they are 
metaphysical principles are in the first instances laws of the develop- 
ment of the human mind. They both claim, in other words, that our 
individual minds, which contribute to this process of development, 
are at the same time capable of comprehending it as a whole. It is the 
necessary succession of stages of the human mind determined by 
these dynamic laws which accounts for a corresponding succession of 
different civilizations, cultures, Volksgeister, or social systems. 

Their common stress on the predominance of the intellectual 
development in this process, incidentally, in no way conflicts with the 
fact that the most influential tradition which they both inspired 
came misleadingly to be called the "materialist" interpretation of 
history. Comte, in this as in many other points nearer to Marx than 
Hegel, laid the foundation for this development with his stress on 
the predominant importance of our knowledge of nature; and the 
basic contention of the so-called materialist (or better, technological) 
interpretation of history is, after all, merely that it is our knowledge 
of nature and of technological possibilities which governs the devel- 
opment in other fields. The essential point, the belief that one's own 
mind should be capable of explaining itself, and the laws of its past 
and future development I cannot explain here why to me this seems 
to involve a contradiction 26 is the same with both, and it is derived 
by Marx, and through him by his disciples, from Hegel and Comte. 

The conception of laws of succession of distinct stages in the devel- 
opment of the human mind in general, and in all its particular mani- 
festations and concretizations, of course implies that these wholes or 
collectives can be directly apprehended as individuals of a species: 
that we can directly perceive civilizations or social systems as objec- 
tively given facts. Such a claim is not surprising in a system of ideal- 
ism like Hegel's, that is, as a product of a conceptual realism or of 


"essentialism." 27 But it seems at first out of place in a naturalist sys- 
tem like Comte's. The fact is, however, that his phenomenalism which 
eschews all mental constructions and allows him to admit only of what 
can be directly observed, forces him into a position very similar to 
Hegel's. Since he cannot deny the existence of social structures, he 
must claim that they are immediately given to experience. In fact, he 
goes so far as to claim that the social wholes are undoubtedly better 
known and more directly observable than the elements of which they 
consist, 28 and that therefore social theory must start from our knowl- 
edge of the directly apprehended wholes. 29 Thus he, no less than 
Hegel, starts from intuitively apprehended abstract concepts of society 
or civilization, and then deductively derives from it his knowledge of 
the structure of the object. He even goes so far, surprisingly enough 
in a positivist, as to claim explicitly that from this conception of the 
total we can derive a priori knowledge about the necessary relations 
of the parts. 30 It is this which justifies it if Comte's positivism has 
sometimes been described as a system of idealism. 31 Like Hegel he 
treats as "concrete universals" 32 those social structures which in fact 
we come to know only by composing them, or building them up, 
from the familiar elements; and he even surpasses Hegel in claiming 
that only society as a whole is real and that the individual is only an 
abstraction. 33 

6. The similarity of the treatment of social evolution by Hegel 
and Comte goes far beyond these methodological aspects. For both, 
society appears as an organism in a fairly literal sense. Both compare 
the stages through which social evolution must pass with the different 
ages through which individual man passes in his natural growth. And 
for both, the growth of the conscious control of his destiny by man is 
the main content of history. 

Neither Comte nor Hegel was of course a historian, properly 
speaking although it is not so very long since it was the fashion to 
describe them, in contrast to their predecessors, as "true historians" 34 
because they were "scientific," which, presumably, meant that they 
aimed at the discovery of laws. But what they presented as the "his- 
torical method" soon began to displace the approach of the great 
historical school of a Niebuhr or a Ranke. It is customary to trace to 


Hegel the rise of the later historicism 35 with its belief in the necessary 
succession of "stages" which manifest themselves in all fields of social 
life; but Comte's influence had probably more to do with it than 

In the confused state of terminology on these matters, 36 it is per- 
haps necessary to say explicitly that I draw a sharp distinction 
between the "historical school" of the early nineteenth century and 
the majority of the later professional historians, and the historicism 
of a Marx, a Schmoller, or a Sombart. It was the latter who believed 
that with the discovery of laws of development they had the only key 
to true historical understanding, and who in an altogether unjustified 
arrogance claimed that the earlier writers, and particularly those of 
the eighteenth century, had been "unhistorical." It seems to me that 
in many respects David Hume, for example, had much more justifi- 
cation when he believed his "to be the historical age and [his] to be 
the historical nation" 87 than the historicists who tried to turn history 
into a theoretical science. The abuses to which this historicism ulti- 
mately led is best seen by the fact that even a thinker so close to it as 
Max Weber was once driven to describe the whole Entwicklungsge- 
danke as a "romantic swindle." 38 I have little to add to the masterly 
analysis of this historicism by my friend Karl Popper, hidden away 
in a wartime volume of Economical except that the responsibility 
for it seems to me to rest at least as much with Comte and positivism 
as with Plato and Hegel. 

This historicism, let me repeat, was much less an affair of the his- 
torians proper than of the representatives of the other social sciences 
who applied what they believed to be the "historical method." Gustav 
Schmoller, the founder of the younger historical school in economics, 
is perhaps the best example of one who was clearly guided by the 
philosophy of Comte rather than that of Hegel. 40 But if the influence 
of this icind of historicism was perhaps most marked in economics, it 
was a fashion which, first in Germany and then elsewhere, affected 
all the social sciences. It could be shown to have influenced the his- 
tory of art 41 no less than anthropology or philology. And the great 
popularity which "philosophies of history" have enjoyed during the 
last hundred years, theories which ascribed to the historical process 
an intelligible "meaning" and which pretended to show us a recog- 


nizable destiny of mankind, is essentially the result of this joint 
influence of Hegel and Comte. 

7. I will not dwell here on another and perhaps only superficial 
resemblance between their theories: the fact that with Comte the 
necessary development proceeds according to the famous law of the 
three stages, while with Hegel a similar threefold rhythm is the result 
of the growth of mind as a dialectical process which proceeds from 
thesis to antithesis and synthesis. More important is the fact that for 
both men history leads to a predetermined end, that it can be inter- 
preted teleologically as a succession of achieved purposes. 

Their historical determinism by which is meant, not merely that 
historical events are somehow determined, but that we are able to 
recognize why they were bound to take a particular course neces- 
sarily implies a thorough fatalism: man cannot change the course 
of history. Even the outstanding individuals are, with Comte, merely 
"instruments" 42 or "organs of a predestined movement," 43 or with 
Hegel Geschaftsfuhrer des Weltgeistes, managers of the World Spirit 
whom Reason cunningly uses for its own purposes. 

There is no room for freedom in such a system: for Comte freedom 
is "the rational submission to the domination of natural laws," 44 that 
is, of course, his natural laws of inevitable development; for Hegel it is 
the recognition of necessity. 45 And since both are in possession of 
the secret of the "definitive and permanent intellectual unity" 46 
to which evolution is tending according to Comte, or of the "absolute 
truth" in Hegel's sense, they both claim for themselves the right to 
impose a new orthodoxy. But I have to admit that in this as in many 
other respects the much abused Hegel is still infinitely more liberal 
than the "scientific" Comte. There are in Hegel no such fulminations 
against the unlimited liberty of conscience as we find throughout the 
work of Comte, and Hegel's attempt to use the machinery of the 
Prussian state to impose an official doctrine 47 appears very tame com- 
pared with Comte's plan for a new "religion of humanity" and all his 
other thoroughly anti-liberal schemes for regimentation which even 
his old admirer John Stuart Mill ultimately branded as "liberticide." 48 

I have not the time to show in any detail how these similar political 
attitudes are reflected in equally similar evaluations of different his- 


torical periods or of different institutions. I will merely mention, as 
particularly characteristic, that the two thinkers show the same dislike 
of Periclean Greece and of the Renaissance, and the same admiration 
for Frederick the Great. 49 

8. The last major point of agreement between Hegel and Comte 
which I will mention is no more than a consequence of their histori- 
cism. But it has exercised so much independent influence that I must 
discuss it separately. It is their thorough moral relativism, their con- 
viction either that all moral rules can be recognized as justified by the 
circumstances of the time, or that only those are valid which can be 
thus explicitly justified it is not always clear which they mean. This 
idea is, of course, merely an application of historical determinism, of 
the belief that we can adequately explain why people at different 
times believed what they actually did believe. This pretended insight 
into the manner in which people's thought is determined implies the 
claim that we can know what they ought to believe in given circum- 
stances, and the dismissal as irrational or inappropriate of all moral 
rules which cannot be thus justified. 

In this connection historicism shows most clearly its rationalist 
or intellectualist character: 50 Since the determination of all historical 
development is to be intelligible, only such forces as can be fully 
understood by us can have been at work. Comte's attitude on this is 
really not very different from Hegel's statement that all that is real 
is rational and all that is rational is also real 51 only that instead of 
rational Comte would have said historically necessary and therefore 
justified. Everything appears to him as in this sense justified in its 
time, slavery and cruelty, superstition and intolerance, because this 
he does not say but it is implied in his reasoning there are no moral 
rules which we must accept as transcending our individual reason, 
nothing which is a given and unconscious presupposition of all our 
thought, and by which we must judge moral issues. Indeed, he sig- 
nificantly could not conceive otany other possibility except either a 
system of morals designed and revealed by a higher being, or one 
demonstrated by our own reason. 52 And between these two the neces- 
sary superiority of the "demonstrated morals" seemed to him unques- 


tionable. Comte was both more consistent and more extreme than 
Hegel. He had indeed already stated the main conception in his very 
first publication when, at the age of nineteen, he wrote: "There is 
nothing good and nothing bad, absolutely speaking; everything is 
relative, this is the only absolute statement." 53 

It is possible, however, that with regard to this particular point I 
am attributing too much importance to the influence of our two 
philosophers, and that they were merely following a general fashion 
of their time which fitted in with their systems of thought. How 
rapidly moral relativism was then spreading we can see clearly in an 
interesting exchange of letters between Thomas Carlyle and John 
Stuart Mill. As early as January 1833 we find Carlyle writing to Mill 
with reference to a recently published History of the French Revo- 
lution: 54 "Has not this man Thiers a wonderful system of Ethics in 
petto? He will prove to you that the power to have done a thing 
almost (if not altogether) gave you the right to do it: every hero of 
his turns out to be perfectly justified he has succeeded in doing." 55 
To which Mill replied: "You have characterized Thiers' system of 
ethics most accurately. I am afraid it is too just a specimen of the 
young French Litterateurs, and that this is all they have made, ethi- 
cally speaking, of their attempts to imitate the Germans in identifying 
themselves with the past. By dint of shifting their point of view to 
make it accord with that of whomever they are affecting to judge, 
coupled with their historical fatalism, they have arrived at the anni- 
hilation of all moral distinctions except success and not success." 56 It 
is interesting that Mill, who knew very well how these ideas had been 
spread in France by the Saint-Simonians, yet explicitly ascribes their 
appearance in a young French historian to German influence. 

That these views lead both Comte and Hegel to a complete moral 
and legal positivism 57 and at times desperately close to the doctrine 
that Might is Right I can mention only in passing. I believe that 
quite a good case could be made out that they are among the main 
sources of the modern tradition of legal positivism. It is, after all, only 
another manifestation of the same general attitude that refuses to 
admit anything as relevant which cannot be recognized as the expres- 
sion of conscious reason. 


9. This brings me back to the common central idea which under- 
lies all these particular similarities of the doctrines of Comte and 
Hegel: the idea that we can improve upon the results of the earlier 
individualist approaches with their modest endeavor to understand 
how individual minds interact, by studying Human Reason, with a 
capital R, from the outside as it were, as something objectively given 
and observable as a whole, as it might appear to some supermind. 
From the belief that they had achieved the old ambition of se ipsam 
cognoscere mentem, and that they had reached a position where they 
were able to predict the future course of the growth of Reason, it was 
only one step more to the still more presumptuous idea that Reason 
should now be able to pull itself up by its own bootstraps to its 
definitive or absolute state. It is in the last analysis this intellectual 
hubris, the seeds of which were sown by Descartes, and perhaps 
already by Plato, which is the common trait in Hegel and Comte. 
The concern with the movement of Reason as a whole not only 
prevented them from understanding the process through which the 
interaction of individuals produced structures of relationships which 
performed actions no individual reason could fully comprehend, but 
it also made them blind to the fact that the attempt of conscious 
reason to control its own development could only have the effect of 
limiting this very growth to what the individual directing mind could 
foresee. 58 Although this aspiration is a direct product of a certain 
brand of rationalism, it seems to me to be the result of a misunder- 
stood rationalism, better called intellectualism a rationalism which 
fails in its most important task, namely, in recognizing the limits of 
what individual conscious reason can accomplish. 

Hegel and Comte both singularly fail to make intelligible how the 
interaction of the efforts of individuals can create something greater 
than they know. While Adam Smith and the other great Scottish 
individualists of the eighteenth century even though they spoke of 
the "invisible hand" provided such an explanation, 59 all that Hegel 
and Comte give us is a mysterious teleological force. And while 
eighteenth-century individualism, essentially humble in its aspira- 
tions, aimed at understanding as well as possible the principles by 
which the individual efforts combined to produce a civilization in 
order to learn what were the conditions most favorable to its further 


growth, Hegel and Comte became the main source of that hubris of 
collectivism which aims at "conscious direction" of all forces of 

10. I must now attempt to illustrate briefly, by a few more exam- 
ples, the hints I have already given about the course which the com- 
mon influence of Hegel and Comte took. One of the most interesting 
to study in detail would be that once very famous but now largely 
forgotten German philosopher, Ludwig Feuerbach. It would be even 
more significant if that old Hegelian who became the founder of 
German positivism had arrived at that position without any knowl- 
edge of Comte; but circumstances make it very probable that he too 
had at an early stage become acquainted with Comte's first Systdme. 
How enormous his influence was, not only on the other radical Young 
Hegelians but on the whole rising generation, is best seen in the 
account given by Friedrich Engels, who describes how they "all be- 
came at once Feuerbachians." 61 

The blend of Hegelianism and positivism which Feuerbach pro- 
vided 62 became characteristic of the thought of the whole group of 
German social theorists who appeared in the 1840's. Only one year 
after Feuerbach had broken away from Hegel because, as he later 
said, he had recognized that the absolute truth meant merely the 
absolute professor, 68 the same year in which the last volume of 
Comte's Cours appeared and when, incidentally, the young Karl 
Marx sent his first work to the printers, namely, in 1842, another 
author, who was very influential and representative of the time, 
Lorenz von Stein, published his Socialism and Communism in France, 
which admittedly attempted a fusion of Hegelian and Saint-Simonian 
and therefore Comtian thought. 64 It has often been noticed that in 
this work Stein anticipated much of the historical theories of Karl 
Marx. 65 This fact becomes even more suggestive when we find that 
another man who was later discovered as a precursor of Karl Marx, 
the Frenchman Jules Lechevalier, was an old Saint-Simonian who 
had actually studied under Hegel in Berlin. 66 He preceded Stein by 
ten years, but remained for some time an isolated figure in France. 
But in Germany Hegelian positivism, if I may so call it, became the 
dominant trend of thought. It was in this atmosphere that both Karl 


Marx and Friedrich Engels formed their now famous theories of 
history, largely Hegelian in language but, I believe, much more in- 
debted to Saint-Simon and Comte than is commonly realized. 67 And 
it was those similarities which I have discussed which made it so easy 
for them to retain Hegelian language for the exposition of a theory 
which, as Marx himself said, in some respects turned Hegel upside 

It is probably also more than an accident that it was almost at the 
same time, in 1841 and in 1843, that two men who were much nearer 
to a natural science approach to social study than they were to Hegel, 
Friedrich List 68 and Wilhelm Roscher, 69 began the tradition of his- 
toricism in economics which became the model that the other social 
sciences soon eagerly followed. It was in those fifteen or twenty years 
following 1842 that the ideas developed and spread which gave 
Germany for the first time a leading position in the social sciences; 
and it was to some extent by way of re-export from Germany (though 
partly also from England through Mill and Buckle), that French his- 
torians and sociologists such as Taine 71 and Durkheim 72 became 
familiar with the positivist tradition at the same time as with Hegeli- 

It was under the banner of this historicism made in Germany that 
in the second half of the ninteenth century the great attack on indi- 
vidualist social theory was conducted, that the very foundations of 
individualist and liberal society came to be questioned, and that both 
historical fatalism and ethical relativism became dominant traditions. 
And it was particularly under its influence that, from Marx to Som- 
bart and Spengler, "philosophies of history" became the most influ- 
ential expression of the attitude of the age to social problems. 73 Its 
most characteristic expression, however, is probably the so-called 
sociology of knowledge which to the present day in its two distinct 
yet closely similar branches still shows how the two strands of thought 
originating from Comte and Hegel operate sometimes side by side 
and sometimes in combination. 74 And, last but not least, most of 
modern socialism derives its theoretical foundation from that Alliance 
intellectuelle franco-allemande, as Celestin Bougie has called it, 75 
which was in the main an alliance of German Hegelianism and 
French positivism. 


Let me conclude this historical sketch by one more remark. After 
1859, as far as the social sciences are concerned, the influence of 
Darwin could do little more than confirm an already existing tend- 
ency. Darwinism may have assisted the introduction into the Anglo- 
Saxon world of ready-fashioned evolutionary theories. But if we 
examine such scientific "revolutions" as were attempted in the social 
sciences under the influence of Darwin, for example by Thorstein 
Veblen and his disciples, they appear in fact as little more than a 
revival of the ideas which German historicism had developed under 
the influence of Hegel and Comte. I suspect, though I have no proof, 
that on closer investigation even this American branch of historicism 
would prove to have more direct connections with the original source 
of these ideas. 76 

11. It is impossible in this brief paper to do full justice to so big 
a subject. Least of all can I hope, with the few remarks I have been 
able to make on the filiation of ideas, to have convinced you that they 
are correct in every detail. But I trust I have at least provided suffi- 
cient evidence to persuade you of the burden of my argument: that 
we are still, largely without knowing it, under the influence of ideas 
which have almost imperceptibly crept into modern thought because 
they were shared by the founders of what seemed to be radically op- 
posed traditions. In these matters we are to a great extent still guided 
by ideas which are at least a century old, just as the nineteenth cen- 
tury was mainly guided by the ideas of the eighteenth. But while the 
ideas of Hume and Voltaire, of Adam Smith and Kant, produced the 
liberalism of the nineteenth century, those of Hegel and Comte, of 
Feuerbach and Marx, have produced the totalitarianism of the 

It may well be true that we as scholars tend to overestimate the 
influence which we can exercise on contemporary affairs. But I doubt 
whether it is possible to overestimate the influence which ideas have 
in the long run. And there can be no question that it is our special 
duty to recognize the currents of thought which still operate in public 
opinion, to examine their significance, and, if necessary, to refute 
them. It was an attempt to fulfill at least the first part of this duty 
which I have tried to outline in this paper. 

Part One 

1. This is not universally true. The 
attempts to treat social phenomena 
"scientistically," which became so in- 
fluential in the 19th century, were not 
completely absent in the 18th. There 
is at least a strong element of it in the 
work of Montesquieu, and of the Physi- 
ocrats. But the great achievements of 
the century in the theory of the social 
sciences, the works of Cantillon and 
Hume, of Turgot and Adam Smith, 
were on the whole free from it. 

2. The earliest example of the mod- 
ern narrow use of the term "science" 
given in Murray's New English Diction- 
ary dates from as late as 1867. But 
T. Merz (History of European Thought 
in the Nineteenth Century, vol. I, 1896, 
p. 89) is probably right when he sug- 
gests that "science" has acquired its 
present meaning about the time of the 
formation of the British Association for 
the Advancement of Science (1831). 

3. E.g. J. Dalton's New System of 
Chemical Philosophy, 1808; Lamarck's 
Philosophic Zoologique, 1809, or Four- 
croy's Philosophic chimique, 1806, 

4. We shall use the term Science 
with a capital letter when we wish to 
emphasize that we use it in the modern 
narrow meaning. 

5. See M. R. Cohen, "The Myth 
about Bacon and the Inductive 
Method," Scientific Monthly, vol. 
XXIII, 1926, p. 505. 

6. Murray's New English Dictionary 
knows both "scientism" and "scientis- 

tic," the former as the "habit and mode 
of expression of a man of science," the 
latter as "characteristic of, or having 
the attributes of, a scientist (used de- 
preciatively)." The terms "naturalistic" 
and "mechanistic," which have often 
been used in a similar sense, are less 
appropriate because they tend to sug- 
gest the wrong kind of contrast. 

7. See e.g. J. Fiolle, Scientisme et 
Science, Paris, 1936, and A. Lalande, 
Vocabulaire technique et critique de la 
philosophic, 4th ed., vol. II, p. 740. 

8. Perhaps the following passage by 
a distinguished physicist may help to 
show how much the scientists them- 
selves suffer from the same attitude 
which has given their influence on 
other disciplines such a baneful char- 
acter: "It is difficult to conceive of 
anything more scientifically bigoted 
than to postulate that all possible ex- 
perience conforms to the same type 
as that with which we are already fa- 
miliar, and therefore to demand that 
explanation use only elements familiar 
in everyday experience. Such an atti- 
tude bespeaks an unimaginativeness, 
a mental obtuseness and obstinacy, 
which might be expected to have ex- 
hausted their pragmatic justification at 
a lower plane of mental activity." 
(P. W. Bridgman, The Logic of Mod- 
ern Physics, 1928, p. 46.) 

9. On the significance of this "law of 
inertia" in the scientific sphere and its 
effects on the social disciplines see H. 


208 (NOTES TO PAGES 17-22) 

Miinsterberg, Grundzuge der Psychol- 
ogic, 1909, vol. I, p. 137; E. Bernheim, 
Lehrbuch der historischen Methode 
und Geschichts-philosophie, 5th ed., 
1908, p. 144, and L. v. Mises, Natio- 
nalokonomie, 1940, p. 24. The phenom- 
enon that we tend to overstrain a new 
principle of explanation is, perhaps, 
more familiar with respect to particular 
scientific doctrines than with respect to 
Science as such. Gravitation and evolu- 
tion, relativity and psycho-analysis, all 
have for certain periods been strained 
far beyond their capacity. That for Sci- 
ence as a whole the phenomenon has 
lasted even longer and had still more 
far-reaching effects is not surprising in 
the light of this experience. 

10. This view was, I believe, first ex- 
plicitly formulated by the German 
physicist G. Kirchhoff in his Vorlesun- 
gen fiber die mathematische Physik; 
Mechanik, 1874, p. 1, and later made 
widely known through the philosophy 
of Ernst Mach. 

11. The word "explain" is only one 
of many important instances where the 
natural sciences were forced to use con- 
cepts originally formed to describe hu- 
man phenomena. "Law" and "cause," 
"function" and "order," "organism" 
and "organization" are others of similar 
importance where Science has more or 
less succeeded in freeing them from 
their anthropomorphic connotations, 
while in other instances, particularly, 
as we shall see, in the case of "pur- 
pose," though it cannot entirely dis- 
pense with them, it has not yet suc- 
ceeded in doing so and is therefore 
with some justification afraid of using 
these terms. 

12. Cf. T. Percy Nunn, Anthropo- 
morphism and Physics (Proceedings of 
the British Academy, vol. XTII), 1926. 

13. L. S. Stebbing, Thinking to Some 
Purpose ("Pelican" Books), 1939, p. 
107. Cf. also B. Russell, The Scientific 
Outlook, 1931, p. 85. 

14. The comparison becomes more 
adequate if we conceive that only small 
groups of characters, say words, ap- 
pear to us simultaneously, while the 
groups as such appear to us only in a 
definite time sequence, as the words 
(or phrases) actually do when we read. 

15. The old puzzle over the miracle 
that qualities which are supposed to at- 
tach to the things are transmitted to 
the brain in the form of indistinguish- 
able nervous processes differing only 
in the organ which they affect, and then 
in the brain re-translated into the orig- 
inal qualities, ceases to exist. We have 
no evidence for the assumption that the 
things in the external world in their re- 
lations to each other differ or are sim- 
ilar in the way our senses suggest to 
us. In fact we have in many instances 
evidence to the contrary. 

16. It may just be mentioned that 
this classification is probably based on 
a pre-conscious learning of those rela- 
tionships in the external world which 
are of special relevance for the exist- 
ence of the human organism in the 
kind of environment in which it devel- 
oped, and that it is closely connected 
with the infinite number of "condi- 
tioned reflexes" which the human spe- 
cies had to acquire in the course of its 
evolution. The classification of the 
stimuli in our central nervous system 
is probably highly "pragmatic" in the 
sense that it is not based on all observ- 
able relations between the external 
things, but stresses those relations be- 
tween the external world (in the nar- 
rower sense) and our body which in 
the course of evolution have proved 
significant for the survival of the spe- 
cies. The human brain will e.g. classify 
external stimuli largely by their asso- 
ciation with stimuli emanating from the 
reflex action of parts of the human 
body caused by the same external 
stimulus without the intervention of the 

17. That different people classify ex- 
ternal stimuli in the "same" way does 
not mean that individual sense qualities 
are the same for different people 
(which would be a meaningless state- 
ment) but that the systems of sense 
qualities of different people have a 
common structure (are homeomorphic 
systems of relations). 

18. Most of the problems of this lat- 
ter group will, however, raise problems 
of the kind characteristic of the social 
sciences proper when we attempt to 
explain them. 

19. Sometimes the German term 
Geisteswissenschaften is now used in 
English to describe the social sciences 
in the specific narrow sense with which 
we are here concerned. But considering 
that this German term was introduced 
by the translator of J. S. Mill's Logic 
to render the latter's "moral sciences," 
there seems to be little case for using 
this translation instead of the original 
English term. 

20. It has often been suggested that 
for this reason economics and the other 
theoretical sciences of society should 
be described as "teleological" sciences. 
This term is, however, misleading as it 
is apt to suggest that not only the ac- 
tions of individual men but also the 
social structures which they produce 
are deliberately designed by somebody 
for a purpose. It leads thus either to 
an "explanation" of social phenomena 
in terms of ends fixed by some superior 
power or to the opposite and no less 
fatal mistake of regarding all social 
phenomena as the product of conscious 
human design, to a "pragmatic" inter- 
pretation which is a bar to all real 
understanding of these phenomena. 
Some authors, particularly O. Spann, 
have used the term "teleological" to 
justify the most abstruse metaphysical 
speculations. Others, like K. Englis, 
have used it in an unobjectionable 
manner and sharply distinguished be- 

(NOTES TO PAGES 22-3 1 ) 209 

tween "teleological" and "normative" 
sciences. (See particularly the illumi- 
nating discussions of the problem in 
K. Englis, Teleologische Theorie der 
Wirtschaft, Brunn, 1930.) But the 
term remains nevertheless misleading. 
If a name is needed the term "praxeo- 
logical" sciences, deriving from A. Es- 
pinas, adopted by T. Kotarbinsky and 
E. Slutsky, and now clearly defined and 
extensively used by L. v. Mises (Na- 
tionalokonomie, Geneva, 1940) would 
appear to be the most appropriate. 

21. While the great majority of the 
objects or events which determine hu- 
man action, and which from that angle 
have to be defined not by their physical 
characteristics but by the human atti- 
tudes towards them, are means for an 
end, this does not mean that the pur- 
posive or "teleological" nature of their 
definition is the essential point. The 
human purposes for which different 
things serve are the most important but 
still only one kind of human attitudes 
which will form the basis of such clas- 
sification. A ghost or a bad or good 
omen belong no less to the class of 
events determining human action which 
have no physical counterpart, although 
they cannot possibly be regarded as 
instruments of human action. 

22. I believe also in the discussions 
on psychological methods. 

23. It is sheer illusion when some 
sociologists believe that they can make 
"crime" an objective fact by defining 
it as those acts for which a person is 
punished. This only pushes the subjec- 
tive element a step further back, but 
does not eliminate it. "Punishment" is 
still a subjective thing which cannot be 
defined in objective terms. If, e.g., we 
see that every time a person commits 
a certain act he is made to wear a 
chain round his neck, this does not tell 
us whether it is a reward or a punish- 

24. This is a development which has 

210 (NOTES TO PAGES 31-34) 

probably been carried out most con- 
sistently by L. v. Mises and I believe 
that most peculiarities of his views 
which at first strike many readers as 
strange and unacceptable are due to 
the fact that in the consistent develop- 
ment of the subjectivist approach he 
has for a long time moved ahead of his 
contemporaries. Probably all the char- 
acteristic features of his theories, from 
his theory of money (so much ahead of 
the time in 1912!) to what he calls his 
a priorism, his views about mathemati- 
cal economics in general and the meas- 
urement of economic phenomena in 
particular, and his criticism of planning 
all follow directly (although, perhaps, 
not all with the same necessity) from 
this central position. See particularly 
his Grundprobleme der Nationaloko- 
nomie (Jena, 1933) and Human Ac- 
tion, 1949. 

25. This was seen very clearly by 
some of the early economists, but later 
obscured by the attempts to make eco- 
nomics "objective" in the sense of the 
natural sciences. Ferdinando Galiani, 
e.g., in his Delia Moneta (1751) em- 
phasized that "those things are equal 
which afford equal satisfaction to the 
one with respect to whom they are said 
to be equivalent. Anyone who seeks 
equality elsewhere, following other 
principles, and expects to find it in 
weight, or similarity of appearance, 
will show little understanding of the 
facts of human life. A sheet of paper 
is often the equivalent of money, from 
which it differs both in weight and 
appearance; on the other hand, two 
moneys of equal weight and quality, 
and similar appearance, are often not 
equal." (Translation from A. E. Mon- 
roe, Early Economic Thought, 1930, 
p. 303) 

26. Except probably linguistics, for 
which it may indeed be claimed with 
some justification that it "is of strategic 
importance for the methodology of the 

social sciences" (E. Sapir, Selected 
Writings, University of California 
Press 1949, p. 166). Edward Sapir, 
whose writings were unknown to me 
when I wrote this essay, stresses many 
of the points here emphasized. See, for 
instance, ibid. p. 46: "no entity in hu- 
man experience can be adequately de- 
fined as the mechanical sum or product 
of its physical properties," and "all sig- 
nificant entities in experience are thus 
revised from the physically given by 
passing through the filter of the func- 
tionally or relatedly meaningful." 

27. In the extreme Ricardian form 
the statement is, of course, that a 
change in the value of the product will 
affect only the value of the land and 
leave the value of the co-operating 
labor altogether unaffected. In this 
form (connected with Ricardo's "ob- 
jective" theory of value) the proposi- 
tion can be regarded as a limiting case 
of the more general proposition stated 
in the text. 

28. For some further discussion of 
these problems see the author's article 
"Economics and Knowledge," Eco- 
nomica, February, 1937, and reprinted 
in Individualism and Economic Order, 
Chicago, 1948. 

29. Cf. C. V. Langlois and C. Seig- 
nobos, Introduction to the Study of 
History, trans, by G. G. Berry, London 
1898, p. 218: "Actions and words all 
have this characteristic, that each was 
the action or word of an individual; 
the imagination can only represent to 
itself individual acts, copies from those 
which are brought before us by direct 
observation. As these are the actions 
of men living in society, most of them 
are performed simultaneously by sev- 
eral individuals, or are directed to some 
common end. These are collective acts; 
but in the imagination as in direct ob- 
servation, they always reduce to a sum 
of individual actions. The "social fact," 
as recognized by certain sociologists, is 

a philosophical construction, not a his- 
torical fact." 

30. Cf. the excellent discussions of 
the effects of conceptual realism (Be- 
griffsrealismus) on economics in W. 
Eucken, The Foundations of Econom- 
ics, London, 1950, pp. 51 el seq. 

3 1 . In some contexts concepts which 
by another social science are treated 
as mere theories to be revised and im- 
proved upon may have to be treated as 
data. One could, e.g., conceive of a 
"science of politics" showing what kind 
of political action follows from the 
people holding certain views on the 
nature of society and for which these 
views would have to be treated as data. 
But while in man's actions towards so- 
cial phenomena, i.e., in explaining his 
political actions, we have to take his 
views about the constitution of society 
as given, we can on a different level 
of analysis investigate their truth or un- 
truth. The fact that a particular society 
may believe that its institutions have 
been created by divine intervention we 
would have to accept as a fact in ex- 
plaining the politics of that society; but 
it need not prevent us from showing 
that this view is probably false. 

32. Cf. Robbins, An Essay on the 
Nature and Significance of Economic 
Science, 2nd ed., 1935, p. 105: "In 
Economics ... the ultimate constitu- 
ents of our fundamental generaliza- 
tions are known to us by immediate 
acquaintance. In the natural sciences 
they are known only inferentially." 
Perhaps the following quotation from 
an earlier essay of my own (Collectivist 
Economic Planning, 1935, p. 11) may 
help further to explain the statement 
in the text: "The position of man, mid- 
way between natural and social phe- 
nomena of the one of which he is an 
effect and of the other a cause brings 
it about that the essential basic facts 
which we need for the explanation are 
part of common experience, part of 

(NOTES TO PAGES 34-39) 211 

the stutf of our thinking. In the social 
sciences it is the elements of the com- 
plex phenomena which are known to 
us beyond the possibility of dispute. 
In the natural sciences they can be at 
best surmised." Cf. also C. Menger, 
V ntersuchungen uber die Methoden 
der Socialwissenschaften, 1883, p. 157, 
note: "Die letzten Elemente, auf 
welche die exacte theoretische Interpre- 
tation der Naturphanomene zuriickge- 
hen muss, sind 'Atome' und 'Krafte*. 
Beide sind unempirischer Natur. Wir 
vermogen uns 'Atome' uberhaupt nicht, 
und die Naturkrafte nur unter einem 
Biide vorzusstellen, und verstehen wir 
in Wahrheit unter den letzteren ledig- 
lich die uns unbekannten Ursachen 
realer Bewegungen. Hieraus ergeben 
sich fur die exacte Interpretation der 
Naturphanomene in letzter Linie ganz 
ausserordentliche Schwierigkeiten. An- 
ders in den exacten Socialwissenschaf- 
ten. Hier sind die menschlichen In- 
dividuen und ihre Bestrebungen, die 
letzten Elemente unserer Analyse, em- 
pirischer Natur und die exacten theore- 
tischen Socialwissenschaften somit in 
grossem Vortheil gegeniiber den ex- 
acten Naturwissenschaften, Die 'Gren- 
zen des Naturerkennens' und die 
hieraus fiir das theoretische Verstand- 
nis der Naturphanomene sich erge- 
benden Schwierigkeiten bestehen in 
Wahrheit nicht fur die exacte For- 
schung auf dem Gebiete der Socialer- 
scheinungen. Wenn A. Comte die 
'Gesellschaften' als reale Organismen, 
und zwar als Organismen komplicir- 
terer Art, denn die natiirlichen, auffasst 
und ihre theoretische Interpretation als 
das unvergleichlich kompliciertere und 
schwierigere wissenschaftliche Problem 
bezeichnet, so findet er sich somit in 
einem schweren Irrthume. Seine Theo- 
rie ware nur gegeniiber Socialforschern 
richtig, welche den, mit Riicksicht auf 
den heutigen Zustand der theoretischen 
Naturwissenschaften, geradezu wahn- 

212 (NOTES TO PAGES 39-43) 

witzigen Gedanken fassen wiirden, die 
Gesellschaftsphanomene nicht in spe- 
cifisch socialwissenschaftlich, sondern 
in naturwissenschaftlich-atomistischer 
Weise interpretiren zu wollen." 

33. I have borrowed the term com- 
positive from a manuscript note of 
Carl Menger who in his personal an- 
notated copy of Schmoller's review of 
his Methoden der Socialwissenschaften 
(Jahrbuch fur Gesetzgebung, etc., 
N.F., 7, 1883, p. 42) wrote it above 
the word deductive used by Schmoller. 
Since writing this I have noticed that 
Ernst Cassierer in his Philosophic der 
Aufkldrung (1932, pp. 12, 25, 341) 
uses the term "compositive" in order 
to point out rightly that the procedure 
of the natural sciences presupposes the 
successive use of the "resolutive" and 
the "compositive" technique. This is 
useful and links up with the point that, 
since the elements are directly known 
to us in the social sciences, we can 
start here with the compositive pro- 

34. As Robbins (I.e., p. 86) rightly 
says, economists in particular regard 
"the things which psychology studies as 
the data of their own deductions." 

35. That this task absorbs a great 
part of the economist's energies should 
not deceive us about the fact that by it- 
self this "pure logic of choice" (or "eco- 
nomic calculus") does not explain any 
facts, or at least does no more so by 
itself than does mathematics. For the 
precise relationship between the pure 
theory of the economic calculus and 
its use in the explanation of social phe- 
nomena I must once more refer to my 
article "Economics and Knowledge" 
(Economica, February, 1937). It 
should perhaps be added that while 
economic theory might be very useful 
to the director of a completely planned 
system in helping him to see what he 
ought to do to achieve his ends, it 
would not help us to explain his actions 

except in so far as he was actually 
guided by it. 

36. Cf. M. R. Cohen, Reason and 
Nature, p. 356: "If, then, social phe- 
nomena depend upon more factors than 
we can readily manipulate, even the 
doctrine of universal determinism will 
not guarantee an attainable expression 
of laws governing the specific phenom- 
ena of social life. Social phenomena, 
though determined, might not to a 
finite mind in limited time display any 
laws at all." 

37. Pareto himself has clearly seen 
this. After stating the nature of the 
factors determining the prices in his 
system of equations, he adds (Manuel 
d' economic politique, 2nd ed., 1927, 
pp. 233-4) : "It may be mentioned here 
that this determination has by no means 
the purpose of arriving at a numerical 
calculation of prices. Let us make the 
most favorable assumptions for such 
a calculation; let us assume that we 
have triumphed over all the difficulties 
of finding the data of the problem and 
that we know the ophelimites of all the 
different commodities for each individ- 
ual, and all the conditions of produc- 
tion of all the commodities, etc. This is 
already an absurd hypothesis to make. 
Yet it is not sufficient to make the solu- 
tion of the problem possible. We have 
seen that in the case of 100 persons and 
700 commodities there will be 70,699 
conditions (actually a great number of 
circumstances which we have so far 
neglected will still increase that num- 
ber) ; we shall, therefore, have to solve 
a system of 70,699 equations. This ex- 
ceeds practically the power of algebraic 
analysis, and this is even more true if 
one contemplates the fabulous number 
of equations which one obtains for a 
population of forty millions and several 
thousand commodities. In this case the 
roles would be changed: it would not 
be mathematics which would assist 
political economy, but political econ- 

omy which would assist mathematics. 
In other words, if one really could 
know all these equations, the only 
means to solve them which is available 
to human powers is to observe the prac- 
tical solution given by the market." 
Compare also A. Cournot, Researches 
into the Mathematical Principles of the 
Theory of Wealth (1838), trans, by 
N. T. Bacon, New York, 1927, p. 127, 
where he says that if in our equations 
we took the entire economic system 
into consideration "this would surpass 
the powers of mathematical analysis 
and of our practical methods of calcu- 
lation, even if the values of all the con- 
stants could be assigned to them nu- 

38. Cf. above pp. 20 et seq. 

39. The attempts often made to 
evade this difficulty by an illustrative 
enumeration of some of the physical 
attributes by which we recognize the 
object as belonging to one of these 
mental categories are just begging the 
question. To say that when we speak 
about a man being angry we mean that 
he shows certain physical symptoms 
helps us very little unless we can ex- 
haustively enumerate all the symptoms 
by which we ever recognize, and which 
always when they are present mean, 
that the man who shows them is angry. 
Only if we could do this would it be 
legitimate to say that in using this term 
we mean no more than certain physical 

40. This must also serve as a justifi- 
cation for what may have seemed the 
very loose way in which we have 
throughout, in illustrative enumera- 
tions of mental entities, indiscrimi- 
nately lumped together such concepts 
as "sensation," "perceptions," "con- 
cepts," or "ideas." These different types 
of mental entities all have in common 
that they are classifications of possible 
external stimuli (or complexes of such 
stimuli). This contention will perhaps 

(NOTES TO PAGES 43-50) 213 

appear less strange now than would 
have been the case fifty years ago, 
since in the configurations or Gestalt 
qualities we have become familiar with 
something which is intermediate be- 
tween the old "elementary" sense qual- 
ities and concepts. It may be added that 
on this view there would, however, 
seem to be no justification for the un- 
warranted ontological conclusions 
which many members of the Gestalt 
school draw from their interesting ob- 
servations; there is no reason to assume 
that the "wholes" which we perceive 
are properties of the external world 
and not merely ways in which our mind 
classifies complexes of stimuli; like 
other abstractions, the relations be- 
tween the parts thus singled out may 
be significant or not. 

Perhaps it should also be mentioned 
here that there is no reason to regard 
values as the only purely mental cate- 
gories which do therefore not appear 
in our picture of the physical world. 
Although values must necessarily oc- 
cupy a central place wherever we are 
concerned with purposive action, they 
are certainly not the only kind of 
purely mental categories which we 
shall have to employ in interpreting 
human activities: the distinction be- 
tween true and false provides at least 
one other instance of such purely men- 
tal categories which is of great impor- 
tance in this connection. On the con- 
nected point that it is not necessarily 
value considerations which will guide 
us in selecting the aspects of social life 
which we study, see note 62 below. 

41. Which, as we have already seen, 
does, of course, not mean that it will 
always treat only elements which have 
common properties as members of the 
same class. 

42. Cf. p. 42 above. 

43. Cf . the comment on this by Carl 
Menger in the passage quoted in note 
32 above. 

214 (NOTES TO PAGES 51-59) 

44. Cf. above p. 23. 

45. It should, perhaps, be empha- 
sized that there is no necessary connec- 
tion between the use of mathematics in 
the social sciences and the attempts to 
measure social phenomena as partic- 
ularly people who are acquainted only 
with elementary mathematics are apt 
to believe. Mathematics may and in 
economics probably is absolutely in- 
dispensable to describe certain types of 
complex structural relationships, 
though there may be no chance of ever 
knowing the numerical values of the 
concrete magnitudes (misleadingly 
called "constants") which appear in the 
formulae describing these structures. 

46. M. R. Cohen, Reason and Na- 
ture, p. 305. 

47. Cf. L. Hogben (in Lancelot 
Hogben's Dangerous Thoughts, 1939, 
p. 99): "Plenty is the excess of free 
energy over the collective calory debt 
of human effort applied to securing the 
needs which all human beings share." 

48. The description of this contrast 
as one between the view from the in- 
side and the view from the outside, 
though, of course, metaphorical, is less 
misleading than such metaphors usu- 
ally are and perhaps the best short way 
to indicate the nature of the contrast. It 
brings out that what of social complexes 
is directly known to us are onlv the 
parts and that the whole is never direct- 
ly perceived but always reconstructed 
by an effort of our imagination. 

49. It would, of course, be false to 
believe that the first instinct of the 
student of social phenomena is any less 
to "go and see." It is not ignorance of 
the obvious but long experience which 
has taught him that directlv to look for 
the wholes which popular language 
suggests to exist leads nowhere. It has, 
indeed, rightlv become one of the first 
maxims which the student of social 
phenomena learns (or oucht to learn) 
never to speak of "society" or a "coun- 

try" acting or behaving in a certain 
manner, but always and exclusively to 
think of individuals as acting. 

50. Cf. above p. 38. 

51. Cf. F. Kaufmann, "Soziale Kol- 
lektiva," Zeitschrift fur Nationaloko- 
nomie, Vol. I, 1930. 

52. It should be noted that, though 
observation may assist us to under- 
stand what people mean by the terms 
they use, it can never tell us what a 
"market" or "capital," etc., really are, 
i.e., which are the significant relations 
that it is useful to single out and com- 
bine into a model. 

53. On this whole problem, see M. 
Ginsberg, The Psychology of Society, 
1921, chapter IV. What is said in the 
text does of course not preclude the 
possibility that our study of the way in 
which individual minds interact may 
reveal to us a structure which operates 
in some respects similarly to the indi- 
vidual mind. And it might be possible 
that the term collective mind would 
prove the best term available to de- 
scribe such structures though it is 
most unlikely that the advantages of 
the use of this term would ever out- 
weigh its disadvantages. But even if 
this were the case the employment of 
this term should not mislead us into 
thinking that it describes any observ- 
able object that can be directly studied. 

54. Cours de philosophic positive, 
Vol. IV (2nd-4th ed.), p. 258. 

55. Cf. Ernst Mach, Erkenntnis und 
Irrtum, 3rd ed., 1917, p. 28, where, 
however, he points out correctly that 
"Konnten wir die Menschen aus gros- 
serer Entfernung, aus der Vogelper- 
spektive, vom Monde aus beobachten, 
so wiirden die feineren Einzelheiten 
mit den von individuellen Erlebnissen 
herruhrpnden ETnfliissen fur uns ver- 
schwinden, und wir wiirden nichts 
wahrnehmen, als Menschen, die mit 
grosser Refcelmassigkeit wachsen, sich 
nahren, sich fortpflanzen." 

56. G. Meinecke, Die Entstehung 
des Historismus, 1936. The term his- 
toricism applied to the older historical 
school discussed by Meinecke is inap- 
propriate and misleading since it was 
introduced by Carl Menger (see Un- 
tersuchungen uber die Methoden der 
Sozialwissenschaften, 1883 pp. 216-220 
with reference to Gervinus and 
Roscher and Die Irrthumer des His- 
torismus, 1884) to describe the distin- 
guishing features of the younger his- 
torical school in economics represented 
by Schmoller and his associates. Noth- 
ing shows more clearly the difference 
between this younger historical school 
and the earlier movement from which 
it inherited the name than that it was 
Schmoller who accused Menger of be- 
ing an adherent of the "Burke-Savigny 
school" and not the other way round. 
(Cf. G. Schmoller, "Zur Methodologie 
der Staats-und Socialwissenschaften," 
Jahrbuch fur Gesetzgebung, etc., N.F., 
Vol. VII, 1886, p. 250). 

57. Although in its German origins 
the connection of historicism with posi- 
tivism is perhaps less conspicuous than 
is the case with its English followers 
such as Ingram or Ashley, it was no less 
present and is overlooked only because 
historicism is erroneously connected 
with the historical method of the older 
historians, instead of with the views of 
Roscher, Hildebrandt and particularly 
Schmoller and his circle. 

58. It will be noted that this, still re- 
stricted, use of the term "science" (in 
the sense in which the Germans speak 
of Gesetzeswissenschaft) is wider than 
the even narrower sense in which its 
meaning is confined to the theoretical 
sciences of nature. 

59. Cf. e.g., E. F. M. Durbin, "Meth- 
ods of Research A Plea for Co-opera- 
tion in the Social Sciences," Economic 
Journal, June, 1938, p. 191, where the 
writer argues that in the social sciences 
""unlike the natural sciences, our sub- 

(NOTES TO PAGES 64-70) 215 

divisions are largely (though not en- 
tirely) abstractions from reality rather 
than sections of reality" and asserts of 
the natural sciences that "in all these 
cases the object of study are real inde- 
pendent objects and groups. They are 
not aspects of something complex. 
They are real things." How this can be 
really asserted, e.g., of Crystallography 
(one of Mr. Durbin's examples) is diffi- 
cult to comprehend. This argument 
has been extremely popular with the 
members of the German historical 
school in economics, though, it should 
be added, Mr. Durbin is probably en- 
tirely unaware how closely his whole 
attitude resembles that of the Kathe- 
dersozialisten of that school. 

60. For a good survey of the modern 
theories of historical relativism see M. 
Mandelbaum, The Problem of Histori- 
cal Knowledge, New York, 1938. 

61. Cf. note 64 below. 

62. It is not possible to pursue 
further here the interesting question 
of the reasons which make the his- 
torian ask particular questions and 
which make him ask at different times 
different questions about the same pe- 
riod. We ought, however, perhaps 
briefly to refer to one view which has 
exercised wide influence, since it claims 
application not only to history but to 
all Kulturwissenschaften. It is Rickert's 
contention that the social sciences, to 
which, according to him, the historical 
method is alone appropriate, select 
their object exclusively with reference 
to certain values with respect to which 
they are important. Unless by "value 
consideration" (Wertbezogenheit) any 
kind of practical interest in a problem 
is meant so that this concept would 
include the reasons which make us, 
say, study the geology of Cumberland, 
this is certainly not necessarily the case. 
If, merely to indulge my taste in detec- 
tive work, I try to find out why in the 
year x Mr. N. has been elected mayor 

216 (NOTES TO PAGES 70-82) 

of Cambridge, this is no less historical 
work though no known value may have 
been affected by the fact that Mr. N. 
rather than somebody else has been 
elected. It is not the reason why we are 
interested hi a problem but the char- 
acter of the problem which makes it 
a historical problem. 

63. It does not alter the essential fact 
that the theorizing will usually already 
have been done for the historian by his 
source which in reporting the "facts" 
will use such terms as "state" or "town" 
which cannot be defined by physical 
characteristics but which refer to a 
complex of relationships which, made 
explicit, is a "theory" of the subject. 

64. The confusion which reigns in 
this field has evidently been assisted by 
a purely verbal confusion apt to arise 
in German in which most of the dis- 
cussions of this problem have been con- 
ducted. In German the singular or 
unique is called the Individuelle, which 
almost inevitably calls forth a mislead- 
ing association with the term for the 
individual (Individuum). Now, indi- 
vidual is the term which we employ to 
describe those natural units which in 
the physical world our senses enable us 
to single out from the environment as 
connected wholes. Individuals in this 
sense, whether human individuals or 
animals or plants, or stones, mountains 
or stars, are constant collections of 
sense attributes which, either because 
the whole complex can move together 
in space relatively to its environment, 
or for cognate reasons, our senses spon- 
taneously single out as connected 
wholes. But this is precisely what the 
objects of history are not. Though sin- 
gular (individuell) , as the individual 
is, they are not definite individuals in 
the sense in which this term is applied 
to natural objects. They are not given 
to us as wholes but only found to be 

65. There is, of course, also a legiti- 

mate sense in which we may speak of 
"historical theories," where "theory" 
is used as a synonym for "factual hy- 
pothesis." In this sense the unconfirmed 
explanation of a particular event is 
often called a historical theory, but 
such a theory is of course something 
altogether different from the theories 
which pretend to state laws which his- 
torical developments obey. 

66. L. Brunschvicg, in Philosophy 
and History, Essays presented to E. 
Cassirer, ed. by R. Klibansky and H. 
J. Paxton, Oxford, 1936, p. 30. 

67. Cf. C. V. Langlois and C. Seig- 
nobos, Introduction to the Study of 
History, trans, by G. G. Berry, Lon- 
don, 1898, p. 222: "If former humanity 
did not resemble humanity of to-day, 
documents would be unintelligible." 

68. Cf. W. Eucken, Grundlagen der 
Nationalokonomie, 1940, pp. 203-205. 

69. "Man is what is known to all." 
Cf. H. Diehls, Die Fragmente der Vor- 
sokratiker, 4th ed., Berlin, 1922; De- 
mocritus, Fragment No. 165, Vol. II, 
p. 94. 1 owe the reference to Democri- 
tus in this connection to Professor 
Alexander Rustow. 

70. On this concept of the "prag- 
matic" interpretation of social insti- 
tutions as for the whole of this sec- 
tion compare Carl Monger, Unter- 
suchungen uber die Methode der So- 
zialwissenschaften, 1883 (L. S. E. re- 
print 1933), book II, chapter 2, which 
is still the most comprehensive and 
most careful survey known to me of 
the problems here discussed. 

71. See above note 11. 

72. Cf. M. Schlick, Fragen der 
Ethik, Vienna, 1930, p. 72. 

73. On the use of teleological con- 
cepts in biology compare the careful 
discussion in J. H. Woodger, Biological 
Principles, 1929, particularly the sec- 
tion on "Teleology and Causation," pp. 
429-451; also the earlier discussion in 
the same work (p. 291) on the so- 

called "scientific habit of thought" 
causing the "scandal" of biologists not 
taking organization seriously and "in 
their haste to become physicists, neg- 
lecting their business." 

74. Untersuchungen, etc., p. 163: 
"Hier ist es wo uns das merkwiirdige, 
vielleicht das merkwiirdigste Problem 
der Sozialwissenschaften entgegentritt: 
Wieso vermogen dem Gemeinwohl 
dienende und fiir dessen Entwicklung 
hochst bedeutsame Institutionen ohne 
einen auf ihre Begriindung gerichteten 
Gemeinwillen zu entstehen?" If for the 
ambiguous and somewhat question- 
begging term "social welfare" we sub- 
stitute in this statement "institutions 
which are necessary conditions for the 
achievement of man's conscious pur- 
poses" it is hardly saying too much that 
the way in which such "purposive 
wholes" are formed and preserved is 
the specific problem of social theory, 
just as the existence and persistence of 
organisms is the problem of biology. 

75. How much intellectual progress 
has been obstructed here by political 
passions is readily seen when we com- 
pare the discussion of the problem in 
the economic and political sciences 
with, say, the study of language where, 
what in the former is still disputed, is 
a commonplace which nobody dreams 
of questioning. 

76. Menger speaks in this connec- 
tion rightly of "a pragmatism which, 
against the wishes of its representa- 
tives, leads inevitably to socialism." 
(Untersuchungen, etc., p. 208.) Today 
this view is most frequently found in 
the writings of the American "Institu- 
tionalists" of which the following 
(taken from Professor W. H. Hamil- 
ton's article on "Institution" in the 
Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, 
Vol. VIII, pp. 87-89) is a good exam- 
ple: "The tangled thing called capital- 
ism was never created by design or cut 
to a blueprint; but now that it is here, 

(NOTES TO PAGES 82-88 ) 217 

contemporary schoolmen have intel- 
lectualized it into a purposive and self- 
regulating instrument of general wel- 
fare." From this it is of course only a 
few steps to the demand "that order 
and direction should be imposed upon 
an unruly society." 

77. A typical example of the treat- 
ment of social institutions as if they 
were true artifacts, in a characteristic 
scientistic setting, is provided by J. 
Mayer, Social Science Principles in the 
Light of Scientific Method, Durham, 
N. C., 1941, p. 20, where society is 
explicitly "designated as an 'artificial 
creation,' much as an automobile or 
steel mill is, that is to say, made by the 
artifice of man." 

78. The best illustration, perhaps, 
of how we constantly make use of the 
experience or knowledge acquired by 
others, is the way in which, by learn- 
ing to speak, we learn to classify things 
in a certain manner without acquiring 
the actual experiences which have led 
successive generations to evolve this 
system of classification. There is a great 
deal of knowledge which we never con- 
sciously know implicit in the knowledge 
of which we are aware, knowledge 
which yet constantly serves us in our 
actions, though we can hardly be said 
to "possess" it. 

79. See above pp. 64-79. 

80. Ibid., pp. 54-58. Cf. also Part I, 
p. 289, and Menger, Untersuchungen t 
etc., pp. 165 et seq. 

81. A. N. Whitehead, An Introduc- 
tion to Mathematics (Home University 
Library), 1911, p. 61. 

82. It cannot be objected to this that 
what is meant by conscious control is 
not control by a single mind but by a 
concerted and "co-ordinated" effort of 
all, or all the best minds, instead of by 
their fortuitous interplay. This phrase 
about the deliberate co-ordination 
merely shifts the task of the individual 
mind to another stage but leaves the 

218 (NOTES TO PAGES 88-94) 

ultimate responsibility still with the co- 
ordinating mind. Committees and other 
devices for facilitating communications 
are excellent means to assist the indi- 
vidual in learning as much as possible; 
but they do not extend the capacity of 
the individual mind. The knowledge 
that can be consciously co-ordinated 
in this manner is still limited to what 
the individual mind can effectively ab- 
sorb and digest. As every person with 
experience of committee work knows, 
its fertility is limited to what the best 
mind among the members can master; 
if the results of the discussion are not 
ultimately turned into a coherent 
whole by an individual mind, they 
are likely to be inferior to what would 
have been produced unaided by a 
single mind. 

83. L. T. Hobhouse, Democracy 
and Reaction, 1904, p. 108. 

84. J. Needham, Integrative Levels. 
A Revaluation of the Idea of Progress 
(Herbert Spencer Lecture), Oxford, 
1937, p. 47. 

85. K. Mannheim, Man and Society 
in an Age of Reconstruction, 1940, 
p. 213. 

86. See above pp. 76-80. 

87. Interesting illustrations of the 
length to which these absurdities have 
been carried will be found in E. Gruen- 
wald, Das Problem der Soziologie des 
Wissens, Vienna, 1934, a posthumously 
published sketch of a very young 
scholar which still constitutes the most 
comprehensive survey of the literature 
of the subject. 

88. Cf. above p. 78. 

89. It is, perhaps, not so obvious as 
to make it unnecessary to mention it, 
that the fashionable disparagement of 
any activity which, in science or the 
arts, is carried on "for its own sake,'* 
and the demand for a "conscious social 
purpose" in everything, is an expression 
of the same general tendencv and based 
on the same illusion of complete 

knowledge as those discussed in the 

90. Some further aspects of the big 
problems here just touched upon are 
discussed in my Road to Serfdom, 

1944, particularly chapters VI and 

91. It is characteristic of the spirit 
of the time, and of positivism in par- 
ticular, when A. Comte speaks (Sys- 
teme de Politique Positive, Vol. I, p. 
356) of "La super iorite necessaire de 
la morale demontree sur la morale 
rev61ee," characteristic especially in its 
implied assumption that a rationally 
constructed moral system is the only 
alternative to one revealed by a higher 

92. For those who wish to pursue 
further the matters discussed in the last 
section a few references to several 
relevant works may be added which 
have appeared since this was first pub- 
lished. In addition to the Selected Writ- 
ings of Edward Sapir (ed. by D. G. 
Mandelbaum, University of California 
Press, 1949, especially pp. 46 f, 104, 
162, 166, 546 ff and 553) already men- 
tioned earlier, the reader will with ad- 
vantage consult G. Ryle, "Knowing 
How and Knowing That," Proceedings 
of the Aristotelian Society, N. S. XL VI, 

1945, and the corresponding passages 
in the same author's The Concept of 
Mind, London, 1949, K. R. Popper, 
The Open Society and its Enemies, 
London, 1946, and M. Polany, The 
Logic of Liberty, London, 1951. 

93. Once again one of the best il- 
lustrations of this tendency is provided 
by K. Mannheim, Man and Society in 
an Age of Reconstruction, 1940, partic- 
ularly pp. 240-244, where he explains 
that "functionalism made its first ap- 
pearance in the field of the natural sci- 
ences, and could be described as the 
technical point of view. It has only 
recently been transferred to the social 
sphere . . . Once this technical approach 

was transferred from natural sciences 
to human affairs, it was bound to bring 
about a profound change hi man him- 
self . . . The functional approach no 
longer regards ideas and moral stand- 
ards as absolute values, but as products 
of the social process which can, if nec- 
essary, be changed by scientific guid- 
ance combined with political practice 
. . . The extension of the doctrine of 
technical supremacy which I have ad- 
vocated in this book is in my opinion 
inevitable . . . Progress in the technique 
of organization is nothing but the ap- 
plication of technical conceptions to 
the forms of co-operation. A human 
being, regarded as part of the social 
machine, is to a certain extent stabi- 
lized in his reactions by training and 
education, and all his recently acquired 
activities are co-ordinated according to 
a definite principle of efficiency within 
an organized framework." 

94. The best description of this fea- 
ture of the engineering approach by an 
engineer which I have been able to find 
occurs in a speech of the great Ger- 
man optical engineer Ernst Abbe: "Wie 
der Architekt ein Bauwerk, bevor eine 
Hand zur Ausfiihrung sich riihrt, schon 
im Geist vollendet hat, nur unter 
Beihilfe von Zeichenstift und Feder zur 
Fixierung seiner Idee, so muss auch das 
komplizierte Gebilde von Glas und 
Metal sich aufbauen lassen rein ver- 
standesmassig, in alien Elementen bis 
ins letzte vorausbestimmt, in rein geis- 
tiger Arbeit, durch theoretische Ermitt- 
lung der Wirkung aller Teile, bevor 
diese Teile noch korperlich ausgefiihrt 
sind. Der arbeitenden Hand darf dabei 
keine andere Funktion mehr verbleiben 
als die genaue Verwirklichung der 
durch die Rechnungen bestimmten 
Formen und Abmessungen aller Kon- 
struktionselemente, und der prakti- 
schen Erfahrung keine andere Aufgabe 
als die Beherrschung der Methoden 
und Hilfsmittel, die fiir letzteres, die 

(NOTES TO PAGES 94-96 ) 219 

korperliche Verwirklichung, geeignet 
sind" (quoted by Franz Schnabel, 
Deutsche Geschichte im neunzehnten 
Jahrbundert, vol. HI, 1934, p. 222 a 
work which is a mine of information 
on this as on all other matters of the 
intellectual history of Germany in the 
nineteenth century). 

95. It would take too long here to 
explain in any detail why, whatever 
delegation or division of labor is possi- 
ble in preparing an engineering 'blue- 
print,' it is very limited and differs in 
essential respects from the division of 
knowledge on which the impersonal 
social processes rest. It must suffice to 
point out that not only must the precise 
nature of the result be fixed which any- 
one who has to draw up part of an en- 
gineering plan must achieve, but also 
that, in order to make such delegation 
possible, it must be known that the 
result can be achieved at no more than 
a certain maximum cost. 

96. The most persistent advocate of 
such i/i natura calculation is, signif- 
icantly, Dr. Otto Neurath, the pro- 
tagonist of modern "physicalism" and 

97. Cf. the characteristic passage in 
B. Bavinck, The Anatomy of Modern 
Science (trans, from the 4th German 
edition by H. S. Hatfield), 1932, p. 
564: "When our technology is still 
at work on the problem of transform- 
ing heat into work in a manner better 
than that possible with our present-day 
steam and other heat engines . . . , this 
is not directly done to cheapen produc- 
tion of energy, but first of all because 
it is an end in itself to increase the 
thermal efficiency of a heat engine as 
much as possible. If the problem set 
is to transform heat into work, then 
this must be done in such a way that 
the greatest possible fraction of the 
heat is so transformed . . . The ideal 
of the designer of such machines is 
therefore the efficiency of the Carnot 

220 (NOTES TO PAGES 96-99) 

cycle, the ideal process which delivers 
the greatest theoretical efficiency." 

It is easy to see why this approach, 
together with the desire to achieve a 
calculation in natura, leads engineers 
so frequently to the construction of 
systems of "energetics" that it has been 
said, with much justice, that "das Cha- 
rakteristikum der Weltanschauung des 
Ingenieurs ist die energetische Weltan- 
schauung" (L. Brinkmann, Der In- 
genieur, Frankfurt, 1908, p. 16). We 
have already referred (above p. 41) to 
this characteristic manifestation of sci- 
entistic "objectivism," and there is no 
space here to return to it in greater de- 
tail. But it deserves to be recorded how 
widespread and typical this view is and 
how great the influence it has exercised. 
E. Solvay, G. Ratzenhofer, W. Ost- 
waldt, P. Geddes, F. Soddy, H. G. 
Wells, the "Technocrats" and L. Hog- 
ben are only a few of the influential 
authors in whose works "energetics" 
play a more or less prominent role. 
There are several studies of this move- 
ment in French and German (Nyssens, 
L'tnergetique, Brussels, 1908; G. Bar- 
nich, Principes de politique positive 
baste sur I'tnergetique sociale de Sol- 
vay, Brussels, 1918; Schnehen, En- 
ergetische Weltanschauung, 1907; A. 
Dochmann, F. W. Ostwald's Energetik, 
Bern, 1908; and the best, Max Weber, 
"Energetische Kulturtheorien," 1909, 
reprinted in Gesammelte Aufsdtze zur 
Wissenschaftslehre, 1922), but none 
of them adequate and none, to my 
knowledge, in English. 

The section from the work of Ba- 
vinck from which a passage has been 
quoted above condenses the gist of 
the enormous literature, mostly Ger- 
man, on the "philosophy of technol- 
ogy" which has had a wide circulation 
and of which the best known is E. 
Zschimmer, Philosophie der Technik, 
3rd ed., Stuttgart, 1933. (Similar ideas 
pervade the well-known American 

works of Lewis Mumford.) This Ger- 
man literature is very instructive as a 
psychological study, though otherwise 
about the dreariest mixture of pre- 
tentious platitudes and revolting non- 
sense which it has ever been the ill 
fortune of the present author to peruse. 
Its common feature is the enmity to- 
wards all economic considerations, the 
attempted vindication of purely tech- 
nological ideals, and the glorification 
of the organization of the whole of so- 
ciety on the principle on which a single 
factory is run. (On the last point see 
particularly F. Dessauer, Philosophie 
der Technik, Bonn, 1927, p. 129.) 

98. That this is fully recognized by 
its advocates is shown by the popularity 
among all socialists from Saint-Simon 
to Marx and Lenin, of the phrase that 
the whole of society should be run hi 
precisely the same manner as a single 
factory is now being run. Cf. V. I. 
Lenin, The State and Revolution 
(1917), "Little Lenin Library," 1933, 
p. 78. "The whole of society will have 
become a single office and a single fac- 
tory with equality of work and equality 
of pay"; and for Saint-Simon and 
Marx, p. 121 above and note 72 to 
Part II. 

99. Cf. now on these problems my 
essay on 'The Use of Knowledge in 
Society," American Economic Review, 
XXXV, No. 4 (September, 1945), re- 
printed in Individualism and Economic 
Order, Chicago, 1948, pp. 77-91. 

100. It is important to remember in 
this connection that the statistical ag- 
gregates which it is often suggested the 
central authority could rely upon in its 
decisions, are always arrived at by a 
deliberate disregard of the peculiar cir- 
cumstances of time and place. 

101. Cf. in this connection the sug- 
gestive discussion of the problem in 
K. F. Mayer, Goldwanderungen, Jena, 
1935, pp. 66-68, and also the present 
author's article "Economics and 

Knowledge" in Economica, February, 
1937, reprinted in Individualism and 
Economic Order, Chicago, 1948, pp. 

102. The Scientific Outlook, 1931, 
p. 211. 

103. Ibid., p. 211. The passage 
quoted could be interpreted in an un- 
objectionable sense if "certain pur- 
poses" is taken to mean not particular 
predetermined results but as capacity 
to provide what the individuals at any 
time wish i.e., if what is planned is a 
machinery which can serve many ends 
and need not in turn be "consciously" 
directed towards a particular end. 

104. A. Bebel, Die Frau und der 
Sozialismus, 13th ed., 1892, p. 376. 

(NOTES TO PAGES 99-107) 221 

"Der Sozialismus ist die mit klarem 
Bewusstsein and mit voller Erkenntnis 
auf alle Gebiete menschlicher Taetig- 
keit angewandte Wissenschaft." Cf. 
also E. Ferri, Socialism and Positive 
Science (trans, from the Italian edi- 
tion of 1894). The first clearly to see 
this connection seems to have been 
M. Ferraz, Socialisme, Naturalisme et 
Positivisme, Paris, 1877. 

105. M. R. Cohen, Reason and Na- 
ture, 1931, p. 449. It is significant that 
one of the leading members of the 
movement with which we are con- 
cerned, the German philosopher Lud- 
wig Feuerbach, explicitly chose the op- 
posite principle, homo homini Deus, 
as his guiding maxim. 

Part Two 

1. D'Alembert was fully aware of 
the significance of the tendency he was 
supporting and anticipated later posi- 
tivism to the extent of expressly con- 
demning everything that did not aim 
at the development of positive truths 
and even suggesting that "all occupa- 
tions with purely speculative subjects 
should be excluded from a healthy state 
as profitless pursuits." Yet he did not 
include in this the moral sciences and 
even, with his master Locke, regarded 
them as a priori sciences comparable 
with mathematics and of equal cer- 
tainty with it. See on all this G. Misch, 
"Zur Entstehung des franzosischen 
Positivismus," Archiv fiir Philosophic, 
Abt. 1, Archiv fiir Geschichte der 
Philosophic, vol. 14 (1901), especially 
pp. 7, 31 and 158; M. Schinz, 
Geschichte der franzosischen Philos- 
ophic seit der Revolution, I. Bd. Die 
Anfange des franzosischen Positivis- 
us, Strassburg, 1914, pp. 58, 67-69, 

71, 96, 149; and H. Gouhier, La 
jeunesse d'Auguste Comte et la forma- 
tion du positivisme, Vol. II, Paris, 1936, 

2. Cf. E. Mach, Die Mechanik in 
ihrer Entwicklung, 3rd ed., 1897, p. 

3. In his famous work Du culte des 
dieux fetishes (1760). 

4. (Euvres de Turgot, ed. Daire, 
Paris, 1844, Vol. II, p. 656. Compare 
also ibid., p. 601. 

5. See particularly the detailed anal- 
ysis by Misch and the books by Schinz 
and Gouhier quoted in note 1 above, 
and also M. Uta, La theorie du savoir 
dans la philosophic d'Auguste Comte, 
Paris (Alcan), 1928. 

6. To avoid giving a wrong impres- 
sion it should perhaps also be stressed 
at this point that the Liberalism of the 
French Revolution was of course not 
yet based on the understanding of the 
market mechanism provided by Adam 

222 (NOTES TO PAGES 107-109) 

Smith and the Utilitarians but rather 
on the Law of Nature and the rational- 
istic-pragmatic interpretation of social 
phenomena which is essentially pre- 
Smithian and of which Rousseau's so- 
cial contract is the prototype. One 
might indeed trace much of the con- 
trast, which with Saint-Simon and 
Comte became an open opposition to 
classical economics, back to the differ- 
ences which existed, say, between 
Montesquieu and Hume, Quesnay and 
Smith, or Condorcet and Bentham. 
Those French economists who like 
Condillac or J. B. Say followed essen- 
tially the same trend as Smith never 
had an influence on French political 
thought comparable to that of Smith in 
England. The result of this was that the 
transition from the older rationalist 
views of society, which regarded it as 
a conscious creation of man, to the 
newer view which wanted to re-create 
it on scientific principles, took place in 
France without passing through a stage 
in which the working of the spontan- 
eous forces of society was generally 
understood. The revolutionary cult of 
Reason was symptomatic of the general 
acceptance of the pragmatic conception 
of social institutions the very opposite 
of the view of Smith. And in a sense it 
would be as true to say that it was the 
same veneration of Reason as the uni- 
versal creator which led to the triumphs 
of science that led to the new attitude 
to social problems as it is to say that 
it was the influence of the new habits 
of thought created by the triumphs of 
science and technology. If socialism is 
not a direct child of the French Revolu- 
tion, it springs at least from that ration- 
alism which distinguished most of the 
French political thinkers of the period 
from the contemporary English liberal- 
ism of Hume and Smith and (to a lesser 
degree) Bentham and the philosophical 
Radicals. On all this see now the first 
essay in my volume on Individualism 

and Economic Order, University of 
Chicago Press, 1948. 

7. See his Esquisse d'un tableau his- 
torique des progres de V esprit humain 
(1793), ed. O. H. Prior, Paris, 1933, 
p. 11. 

8. Cf. his Tableau general de la 
science qui a pour objet I' application 
du calcul aux sciences politiques et 
morales, (Euvres, ed. Arago, Paris, 
1847-49, Vol. I, pp. 539-573. 

9. (Euvres, ed. Arago, Vol. I, p. 392. 

10. Condorcet, Rapport et pro jet de 
decret sur I' organization generate de 
V instruction publique (1792), ed. G. 
Compayre, Paris, 1883, p. 120. 

11. Esquisse, ed. Prior, p. 11. 

12. Ibid., p. 200. 

13. Ibid., p. 203. The famous pas- 
sage in which this sentence occurs fig- 
ures, characteristically, as motto of 
book VI, "On the Logic of the Moral 
Sciences" of J. S. Mill's Logic. 

1 4. It is worthy of mention that the 
man who was so largely responsible for 
the creation of what in the late 19th 
century came to be regarded as "his- 
torical sense," i.e., of the Entwick- 
lungsgedanke with all its metaphysical 
associations, was the same man who 
was capable of celebrating in a dis- 
course the deliberate destruction of 
papers relating to the history of the 
noble families of France. "To-day 
Reason bums the innumerable volumes 
which attest the vanity of a caste. Other 
vestiges remain in public and private 
libraries. They must be involved in a 
common destruction." 

1 5. Quoted by Gouhier, La jeunesse 
d'Auguste Comte, Vol. II, p. 31, from 
the Dtcade philosophique, Vol. I, 

16. See E. Allain, L'ceuvre scolaire 
de la Revolution, 1789-1802, Paris, 
1891; C. Hippeau, L f instruction pub- 
lique en France pendant la Revolution, 
Paris, 1883 and F. Pic?wet. Les Ideo- 
logues, Paris, 1891, pp. 56-61. 

17. See E. Allain, op. cit. pp. 117- 

18. After 1803 the ancient languages 
were at least partly restored in Napo- 
leon's lycees. 

19. H. de Saint-Simon, Me moire sur 
la science de Vhomme (1813) in 
(Euvres de Saint-Simon and d'Enfantin, 
Paris, 1877-78, Vol. XL, p. 16. 

20. Particularly of saltpetre for the 
production of gunpowder. 

21. See Pressard, Histoire de I'asso- 
ciation philotechnique, Paris 1889, and 
Gouhier, La jeunesse d'Auguste Comte, 
Vol. II, p. 54. 

22. On the foundation and history 
of the Ecole Polytechnique see A. 
Fourcy, Histoire de I'Ecole Polytech- 
nique, Paris, 1828; G. Pinet, Histoire 
de I'Ecole Polytechnique, Paris, 1887; 
G.-G. J. Jacobi, Ueber die Pariser 
polytechnische Schule (Vortrag gehal- 
ten am 22. Mai 1835 in der physika- 
lisch-okonomischen Gesellschaft zu 
Konigsberg) in Gesammelte Werke, 
Berlin, 1891, Vol. VI, p. 355; F. 
Schnabel, Die A hf tinge des technischen 
Hochschulwesens, Stuttgart, 1925; and 
F. Klein, Vorlesungen iiber die Ent- 
wicklung der Mathematik, Berlin 1926, 
Vol. I, pp. 63-89. 

23. Carnot had published in 1783 
an Essay on Machines in General (in 
the second edition of 1803 called Prin- 
cipes fondamentaux de I'equilibre du 
mouvement) in which he not only ex- 
pounded Lagrange's new view of me- 
chanics but developed the idea of the 
"ideal machine" which takes nothing 
away from the force which puts it into 
motion. His work did much to prepare 
the way for that of his son, Sadi Car- 
not, "the founder of the Science of 
Energy." His younger son, Hippolyte, 
was the leading member of the Saint- 
Simonian group and actual writer of 
the Doctrine de Saint-Simon which we 
shall meet later. Lazare Carnot, the 
father, had been a life-long admirer 

(NOTES TO PAGES 110-112) 223 

and protector of Saint-Simon himself. 
As Arago reports of Lazare Carnot, he 
"always discoursed with [Arago] on the 
political organisation of society pre- 
cisely as he speaks in his work of a 
machine." See F. Arago, Biographies 
of Distinguished Men, transl. by W. H. 
Smith, etc., London, 1857, pp. 300- 
304, and E. Diihring, Kritische Ge- 
schichte der allgemeinen Principien der 
Mechanik, 3rd ed., Leipzig, 1887, pp. 

24. L. de Launay, Un grand fran- 
fais, Monge, Fondateur de I'Ecole 
Polytechnique, Paris, 1933, p. 130. 

25. Cf. A. Comte, "Philosophical 
considerations on the Sciences and Men 
of Science" (1825, in Early Essays on 
Social Philosophy, London, "New Uni- 
versal Library," p. 272), where he says 
that he knows "but one conception 
capable of giving a precise idea of [the 
characteristic doctrines fitted to consti- 
tute the special existence of the class 
of Engineers], that of the illustrious 
Monge, in his Geometric descriptive, 
where he gives a general theory of the 
arts of construction." 

26. G.-G. J. Jacobi, I.e., p. 370. 

27. Fourcroy, Vauquelin, Chaptal. 

28. In March 1808, shortly after he 
had arrived in Paris (nominally on a 
diplomatic mission), Alexander von 
Humboldt wrote to a friend: "Je passe 
ma vie a 1'Ecole Polytechnique et aux 
Tuileries. Je travaille a 1'Ecole, j'y 
couche; j'y mis tous les nuit, tous les 
matins. J'habite la meme chambre avec 
Gay-Lussac." (K. Bruhns, Alexander 
von Humboldt, 1872, Vol. II, p. 6. 

29. Laplace, Essai philosophique sur 
les probability (1814), edition Les 
Maitres de la Pensee Scientifique, Paris, 
1921, p. 3. 

30. Cf. for instance the reference to 
it in Abel Transon, De la religion Saint- 
Simonienne. Aux Eleves de VEcole 
Polytechnique, Paris, 1830, p. 27. Sec 
also note 69 below. 

224 (NOTES TO PAGES 1 12-1 14) 

31. See O. Neurath, Empirische So- 
ziologie, Vienna, 1931, p. 129. On the 
postulate of universal determinism 
which is really involved, see particu- 
larly K. Popper, Logik der Forschung, 
1935, p. 183, Ph. Frank, Das Kausal- 
gesetz, and R. von Mises, Probability, 
Statistics and Truth, 1939, pp. 284-294. 
Equally characteristic of the positiv- 
ist spirit and no less influential in 
spreading it is the famous anecdote 
about Laplace's answer to Napoleon 
when asked why in his Mecanique 
Celeste the name of God did not ap- 
pear: "Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hy- 

32. E. Duhring, Kritische Geshichte, 
etc., 3rd ed., p. 569, et seq. 

33. H. de Balzac after remarking in 
one of his novels (Autre etude de 
femme) how different periods had en- 
riched the French language by certain 
characteristic words, takes organiser as 
an example and adds that it is "un mot 
de rempire qui contient Napol6on tout 

34. fi. Keller, Le general de la Mori- 
ciere, quoted by Pinet, Histoire de 
I'Ecole Polytechnique, Paris, 1887, p. 

35. A. Thibaudet, quoted by Gou- 
hier, La jeunesse d'Auguste Comte, 
Vol. I, p. 146. 

36. See Arago, (Euvres, Vol. HI, p. 
109, and F. Bastiat, Baccalaureat et 
Socialisme, Paris, 1850. 

37. See G. Pinet, Ecrivains et Pen- 
seurs Polytechniciens, Paris, 1898. 

38. See, however, the essays of La- 
voisier and Lagrange in Daire, M6- 
langes d* economic politique, 2 vols., 
Paris, 1847-8, Vol. I, pp. 575-607. 

39. See Arago, (Euvres, Vol. II, p. 
34, where he points out that Ampfcre 
(a physiologist by training) was one of 
the few connecting links between the 
two groups. 

40. On Cuvier's influence see the ac- 
count in J. T. Merz, A History of Euro- 

pean Thought in the Nineteenth Cen- 
tury, Vol. I, 1906, pp. 136 et seq., 
where the following characteristic pas- 
sage is quoted (p. 154) from Cuvier's 
Rapport historique sur le progres des 
sciences naturelles depuis 1789, Paris, 
1810, p. 389: "Experiments alone, ex- 
periments that are precise, made with 
weights, measures and calculation, by 
comparison of all substances employed 
and all substances obtained; this to-day 
is the only legitimate way of reasoning 
and demonstration. Thus, though the 
natural sciences escape the application 
of the calculus, they glory in being sub- 
ject to the mathematical spirit, and by 
the wise course they have invariably 
adopted, they do not expose themselves 
to the risk of taking a backward step." 
Cf . also Lord Acton, Lectures on Mod- 
ern History, pp. 22 and 338, note 82. 

41. A. C. Thibaudeau (Bonaparte 
and the Consulate, 1834, English trans- 
lation by G. K. Fortescue, 1908, p. 
153) points out that, although the 
terms 'ideologues' and 'ideologic,' com- 
monly ascribed to Napoleon, were in- 
troduced as technical terms by Destutt 
de Tracy with the first volume of his 
Elements tfldeologie, published in 
1801, at least the word 'ideologic' was 
known in French as early as 1684. 

42. On the whole ideological school 
see the comprehensive exposition in F. 
Picavet, Les Ideologues, Essai sur I'his- 
toire des idees et des theories scienti- 
fiques, philosophiques, religieuses, en 
France depuis 1789, Paris, 1891, and, 
published since this essay first ap- 
peared, E. Cailliet, La Tradition lit- 
teraire des ideologues, Philadelphia, 

43. The expression was indeed used 
in very much the same wide sense as 
their German contemporaries used the 
term anthropology. On the German 
parallel to the ideologues see F. Gun- 
ther, Die Wissenschaft vom Menschen, 

ein Beitrag zum deutschen Geistesleben 
im Zeitalter des Rationalismus (in 
Geschichtliche Untersuchungen, her- 
ausgegeben von K. Lamprecht, Bd. 5, 
Heft 1) 1907. 

44. Picavet, I.e., p. 337. 

45. Ibid., p. 314. 

46. Ibid., p. 250. Also see pp. 131-5, 
where Cabanis' predecessor in these ef- 
forts, Volney, is discussed. In 1793, 
Volney had published a Catechisme 
du Citoyen Frangais, later to become 
La lot naturelle ou les principes phy- 
siques de la morale in which he unsuc- 
cessfully attempted to create morals as 
a physical science. 

47. Ibid., p. 226. 

48. On Destutt de Tracy see H. 
Michel, L'ldee d'etat, Paris, 1895, pp. 
282-286; on Louis Say see A. Schatz, 
L'lndividualisme economique et social, 
Paris, 1907, pp. 153 et seq. 

49. See Picavet, I.e., p. 82. 

50. See the passage from Napoleon's 
reply to the Council of State at its ses- 
sion of December 20th, 1812, quoted 
by Pareto (Min4 and Society, Vol. Ill, 
p. 1244) from the Moniteur universel, 
Paris, December 21st, 1812: "All the 
misfortunes that our beautiful France 
has been experiencing have to be 
ascribed to 'ideology,' to that cloudy 
metaphysics which goes ingeniously 
seekjng first causes and would ground 
legislation of the peoples upon them 
instead of adapting laws to what we 
know of the human heart and the les- 
sons of history. Such errors could only 
lead to a r6gime of men of blood and 
have in fact done so. Who cajoled the 
people by thrusting upon it a sov- 
ereignty it was unable to exercise? Who 
destroyed the sacredness of the laws 
and respect for the laws by basing 
them not on the sacred principles of 
justice, on the nature of things and the 
nature of civil justice, but simply on 
the will of an assembly made up of 
individuals who are strangers to any 

(NOTES TO PAGES 114-117) 225 

knowledge of law, whether civil, ad- 
ministrative, political or military? 
When a man is called upon to reor- 
ganize a state, he must follow princi- 
ples that are forever in conflict. The 
advantages and disadvantages of the 
different systems of legislation have to 
be sought in history." See also H. 
Taine, Les origines de la France con- 
temporaine, 1876, Vol. II, pp. 214-233. 
Not because of its historical correct- 
ness which may be questioned, but in 
order to show how all this appeared 
to the next generation, the following 
characteristic statement by a leading 
Saint-Simonian may be quoted: "Apres 
1793, V Academic des Sciences prend le 
sceptre; les mathtmaticiens et physi- 
dens remplacent les litterateurs: 
Monge, Fourcroy, Laplace . . . r&gnent 
dans le royaume de ^intelligence. En 
meme temps, Napoleon, membre de 
Tlnstitut, classe de mlcanique, 6touffe 
au berceau les enfants legitimes de la 
philosophic du XVIIP stecle." (P. En- 
fantin, Colonisation de VAlgerie, 1843, 
pp. 521-2.) 

51. See A. C. Thibaudeau, Le Con- 
sulat et I'Empire, Paris, 1835-37, Vol. 
Ill, p. 396. 

52. See J. B. Say, fraite $ economic 
politique, 2nd ed. 1814, Avertissement. 

53. See G. Chinard, Jefferson et les 
ideologues, Baltimore, 1925. 

54. Cf. Merz, I.e., Vol. I. p. 149. 

55. The date, and therefore the age, 
is not quite certain. 

56. See H. Gouhier, La jeunesse 
d'Auguste Comte et la formation du 
positivisme, Vol. II, Saint Simon ]us- 
qu'a la restauration, Paris, 1936, which 
for the first forty-five years of Saint- 
Simon's life supersedes all earlier biog- 
raphies, including the best of them, G. 
Weill, Un precurseur du socialisme, 
Saint-Simon et son ceuvre, Paris, 1894, 
and M. Leroy, La vie veritable du 
comte de Saint-Simon, 1760-1825, 
Paris, 1925, and G. Dumas, Psycho- 

226 (NOTES TO PAGES 1 17-121 ) 

logie de deux messies positivistes, 
Saint-Simon et Auguste Comte, Paris, 

57. "J'ai employe mon argent a ac- 
querir de la science; grande chere, bon 
vin, beaucoup d'empressements vis-a- 
vis des professeurs auxquels ma 
bourse e*tait ouverte, me procuraient 
toutes les facilites que je pouvais de- 
sirer." Quoted by M. Leroy, /.c., p. 210. 

58. Leon Halevy, "Souvenirs de 
Saint-Simon," La France litttraire, 
March, 1832, partially reproduced by 
G. Brunet in Revue d'histoire econom- 
ique et sociale, 1925, p. 168. 

59. See Madame de Stael, De la 
literature consideree dans ses rapports 
avec les institutions sociales (1800). 
The passages quoted occur in the "Dis- 
cours preliminaire," Vol. I, p. 58, and 
in Vol. II, 2nd part, Ch. VI, p. 215 of 
the 3rd ed. of 1818. 

60. See (Euvres de Saint-Simon et 
d'Enfantin, Paris, 1865-1878 (hence- 
forth quoted as O.S.S.E.), Vol. XV, 
pp. 7-60, and the new edition reprinted 
from the original with an Introduction 
by A. Pereire, Paris, 1925. Nearly all 
the important passages from Saint- 
Simon's works are conveniently 
brought together in L'ceuvre d'Henri 
de Saint-Simon, Textes choisies avec 
une Introduction par C. Bougie, Notice 
bibliographique de A. Pereire, Paris, 
1925. In the references given below, the 
first refers to the (Euvres, the second 
(in brackets) to the separate edition of 
the Lettres of 1925. For the compli- 
cated history of the various editions 
and manuscripts of this work see Gou- 
hier, La jeunesse d' Auguste Comte, 
Vol. II, pp. 224 et seq. 

61. O.S.S.E., XV, p. 11 (3). 

62. Ibid., p. 51 (55). 

63. Ibid., p. 49 (53). 

64. Ibid., p. 48 (52). 

65. Ibid., pp. 50-3 (54-8). 

66. In Lettres, ed. A. Pereire, pp. 
xv, 93. 

67. O.S.S.E., XV, p. 39 (39). 

68. Ibid., p. 40 (40). 

69. O.S.S.E., XV, pp. 39-40, 55 (39, 
61). The passage in which Saint-Simon 
praises the significance of that uni- 
versal law is a curious anticipation of 
Laplace's famous world formula (ibid., 
p. 59 [67]) : "Faites la supposition que 
vous avez acquis connoissance de la 
maniere dont la matiere s'est trouvee 
repartie a une epoque quelconque, et 
que vous avez fait le plan de I'Univers, 
en designant par des nombres la quan- 
tit6 de matiere qui se trouvoit contenue 
dans chacune des ces parties, il sera 
clair a vos yeux qu'en faisant sur ce 
pkn d'application de la loi de la pesan- 
teur universelle, vous pourriez predire 
(aussi exactment que I'&at des connois- 
sances mathematiques vous le permet- 
troit) tousles changements successifs 
qui arriveraient dans I'Univers." But 
although Laplace published his formula 
only in 1814, we must, no doubt, as- 
sume that the idea would have been 
familiar from his lectures delivered in 
1796 to which he later added the intro- 
duction containing the famous phrase. 

70. O.S.S.E., XV, p. 26 (23). 

71. Ibid., p. 28 (25). 

72. Ibid., p. 55 (61). Cf. also p. 57 
(65) : "L'obligation est imposed a cha- 
cun de donner constamment a ses 
forces personelles une direction utile 
I'humanit6; les bras du pauvre con- 
tinueront a nourir le riche, mais le 
riche recoit le commandement de f aire 
travailler sa cervelle, et si sa cervelle 
n'est pas propre au travail, il sera bien 
oblige de faire travailler ses bras; car 
Newton ne laissera surement pas sur 
cette planete (une des plus voisines du 
soleil) des ouvriers volontairement in- 
utiles dans 1'atelier." The idea of the 
organization of society on the example 
of the workshop, which appears here 
for the first time in literature, has, of 
course, since played an important r61e 
in all socialist literature. See particu- 

larly G. Sorel, "Le syndicalisme r6volu- 
tionaire" in Mouvement Socialist e, No- 
vember 1st and 15th, 1905. Compare 
also the passage in K. Marx, Das Kapi- 
tal, Vol. I, Ch. 12, section 4, 10th ed., 
pp. 319-324. 

73. Lett res, ed. A. Pereire, p. 54. 
The passage has been discreetly sup- 
pressed by his pupils who edited the 

74. O.S.S.E., XV, p. 54 (59). 

75. 2 Vols. 1807-8. The Introduc- 
tion has not been included in the 
(Euvres de Saint-Simon et d'Enfantin 
and must be consulted in (Euvres chois- 
ies de C.-H. de Saint-Simon, Bruxelles, 
1859, Vol. I, pp. 43-264. 

76. (Euvres choisies, I ("Mon Porte- 
feuille") : "Trouver une synthese scien- 
tifique qui codifie les dogmes du nou- 
veau pouvoir et serve de base une 
reorganisation de 1'Europe." 

77. (Euvres choisies, I, p. 219. See 
also pp. 195, 214-5, and 223-4. 

78. Ibid., p. 214: "Je crois a la ne*ces- 
site d'une religion pour le maintien de 
1'ordre social; je crois que le deisme est 
use, je crois que le physicisme n'est 
point assez solidement etabli pour pou- 
voir servir de base a une religion. Je 
crois que la force des choses veut qu'il 
y ait deux doctrines distinctes: le 
Physicisme pour les gens instruits, et le 
D6isme pour la classe ignorante." 

79. Saint-Simon uses "Deism" and 
"Theism" indiscriminately for Mono- 

80. Ibid., p. 195. 

81. Ibid., p. 146. 

82. Ibid., p. 61. 

83. Ibid., pp. 243-4. 

84. Ibid., pp. 231, 236. Descartes 
has now become the hero because our 
perpetual time-server has become vio- 
lently nationalistic, deplores the Eng- 
lish predominance which is still defiling 
French science and wants to give the 
initiative to the French. The work pre- 
tends to be an answer to Napoleon's 

(NOTES TO PAGES 121-126) 227 

question to the Academic on the prog- 
ress of French sciences since 1789. 

85. O.S.S.E., XV, pp. 71,77. 

86. O.S.S.E., XV, p. 112. 

87. Ibid., p. 217: Tidee de Dieu 
n'est pas autre chose que 1'idee de Fin- 
telligence humaine generalisee." 

88. See W. Sombart, Sozialismus 
und Soziale Bewegung, 7th ed., 1919, 
p. 54. 

89. O.S.S.E., XV, pp. 42, 53-56. 

90. O.S.S.E., XL, p. 39. 

91. Ibid., p. 17. 

92. Ibid., pp. 25, 186. 

93. Ibid., p. 29. 

94. Ibid., pp.161, 186. 

95. Ibid., p. 17. 

96. Ibid., pp. 247, 310. 

97. Ibid., p. 265. 

98. Ibid., p. 172. 

99. Ibid.,p. 161. 

100. O.S.S.E., XL, p. 287. 

101. De la reorganisation de la so- 
ciete europeenne ou de la ndcessite 
et des moyens de r assembler les peuples 
de reurope en un seul corps politique 
en conservant d. chacun son independ- 
ance nationale, par H. C. Saint-Simon 
et A. Thierry, son 61eve, O.S.S.E., Vol. 
XV, pp. 153-248, also in a new edition 
by A. Pereire, Paris, 1925. 

102. For a discussion of the signif- 
icance of the work of Thierry, Mignet, 
and Guizot in this connection see G. 
Plechanow, "Ueber die Anfange der 
Lehre vom Klassenkampf," Die Neue 
Zeit, Vol. 21, 1902. Cf. also C. Seigno- 
bos. La Mfthode historique t 2 m * ed. 
1909, p. 261: Vest lui [Saint-Simon] 
qui a fourni a Augustin Thierry ses 
id6es fondamentales." 

103. O.S.S.E., XV, p. 247. In the 
form of "L'age d'or, qu'une aveu- 
gle tradition a plac6 jusq'ici dans le 
pass6, est devant nous" the phrase ap- 
pears first in 1825 as the motto of 
Saint-Simon's Opinions litter air es et 
philosophiques, and later as the motto 
of the Saint-Simonian Producteur. 

228 (NOTES TO PAGES 126-131) 

104. See M. Leroy, Vie de Saint- 
Simon, pp. 262, 277, and Hippolyte 
Carnot, "Memoire sur le Saint-Simon- 
ism/' Stances et travaux de I Academic 
des Sciences Morales et Politiques, 47* 
ann6e, 1887, p. 128, where H. Carnot 
reports the following characterisation 
of Saint-Simon by his father: "J'ai 
connu M. de Saint-Simon; c'est un 
singulier homme. II a tort de se croire 
un savant, mais personne n'a des ides 
aussi neuves et aussi hardies." The 
only other scholars who seem ever 
to have given Saint-Simon any en- 
couragement appear to have been the 
astronomer Hall6 and, characteristi- 
cally, Cuvier. 

105. V Industrie ou discussions po- 
litiques, morales et philosophiques dans 
I'interet de tous les hommes livres a 
des travaux independants. In O.S.S.E., 
Vol. XVIII. 

106. For a comparison of Saint- 
Simon's views of this period with those 
of his liberal contemporaries see E. 
Halevy, Uere des tyrannies, 1938, pp. 

107. O.S.S.E., Vol. XVIII, p. 165. 

108. Ibid., pp. 186, 188, 189. Cf. also 
Vol. XIX, p. 126. 

109. See A. Augustin Thierry, Au- 
gustin Thierry (1795-1856) d f apres sa 
correspondance et ses papiers de fa- 
mille, Paris, 1922, p. 36. 

110. See A. Comte, Early Essays on 
Social Philosophy, translated by H. D. 
Hutton, "New Universal Library," Lon- 
don (1911), p. 23; and Systeme de 
politique positive, 1851-54, Vol. HI, 
p. 16. 

111. See H. Gouhier, La jeunesse 
d'Auguste Comte, Vol. I, 1933, ch. 6. 
As the third volume of this excellent 
work had not yet appeared at the time 
this essay was written, the following 
exposition relies for Comte's biography 
after 1817 largely on the same author's 
brief Vie d'Auguste Comte, Paris, 

112. A. Pereire, Autour de Saint- 
Simon, Paris, 1912, p. 25. 

113. GEuvres de Saint-Simon et 
d'Enfantin (2nd ed. 1865-78) 
[O.S.S.E.], XIX, pp. 37-8. 

114. Ibid., p. 27: "La grande sup6- 
riorit6 de 1'epoque actuelle . . . consiste 
en ce qu'il nous est possible de savoir 
ce que nous faisons; . . . Ayant la 
conscience de notre etat, nous avons 
celle de ce qu'il nous convient & fa ire." 

115. Ibid., p. 23. 

1 16. L'lndustrie,Vol. III,2 m * cahier: 
"II ne s'agit plus de disserter a perte de 
vue pour savoir quel est le meilleur des 
gouvernements: il n'y a rien de bon, 
il n'y a rien de mauvais, absolument 
parlant. Tout est relatif, voil& la seule 
chose absolue." 

117. O.S.S.E., XIX, p. 13. 

118. Ibid., pp. 82-3, 89. 

119. Ibid., p. 83. 

120. Incidentally, and as a justifica- 
tion of this view, Comte develops for 
the first time the theory that the present 
constitution of property in France de- 
rives from the conquest of Gaul by the 
Franks. His statement (ibid., p. 87) 
that the successors of the victors are 
still the proprietors while the descend- 
ants of the vanquished are today the 
farmers provides the basic idea for the 
racial theories of history of Thierry and 
his school. It is on this that Saint-Simon 
two years later based his claim of pri- 
ority vis-d-vis Guizot (see O.S.S.E., 
XXI, p. 192). 

121. A. Pereire, I.e., pp. 25-28. 

122. Lettres d'Auguste Comte d M. 
Valat, Paris, 1870, pp. 51, 53. See also 
pp. 36-7; (letter dated April 17, 1818): 
"Je puis te dire que jamais je n'ai connu 
de jeune homme aussi ardent ni aussi 
ge"ne*reux que lui: c'est un etre original 
sous tous les rapports. J'ai appris, par 
cette liaison de travail et d'amiti6 avec 
un des hommes qui voient le plus loin 
en politique philosophique, j'ai appris 
une foule de choses que j'aurais en vain 

cherchees dans les livres, et mon esprit 
a fait plus de chemin depuis six mois 
que dure notre liaison qu'il n'en aurait 
fait entrois ans si j'avais ete seul. Ainsi 
cette besogne m'a forme le jugement 
sur les sciences politiques, et, par 
contre-coup, elle a agrandi mes idees 
sur toutes les autres sciences, de sorte 
que je me trouve avoir acquis plus de 
philosophic dans la tete, un coup d'oeil 
plus juste, plus eleve." M. Leroy, in 
quoting this passage (la vie veritable 
du comte Henri de Saint-Simon, 1925, 
p. 293), inserts after the first sentence 
"Saint-Simon est un accoucheur 
d'idees." Although this sentence is 
probably not by Comte, we have taken 
the title of section II from it. 

123. A. Pereire, I.e., p. 60. 

124. The term journal and similar 
expressions in connection with Saint- 
Simon's works must not be taken too 
literally. They all appeared in irregular 
sequence, often out of numerical order 
and in different formats and in various 
editions. This is true of the Organ- 
isateur even more than of his other 

125. O.S.S.E., XX, pp. 17-26. 

126. Ibid., pp. 50-58. 

127. Ibid., XX, pp. 50-58. 

128. The idea of the chambre d'in- 
vention is probably borrowed from Ba- 
con's New Atlantis. 

129. O.S.S.E., XX, p. 59. 

130. Ibid., p. 63. 

131. 1 bid., pp. 69-72. 

132. I bid., p. 14. 

133. Ibid.,p.67. 

134. In the Appendix to the Systeme 
de politique positive, 1854, later re- 
printed under the title Opuscules de 
philosophic sociale 1819-1828, Paris, 
1883. An English translation of the 
latter by H. D. Hutton with an intro- 
duction by F. Harrison is available in 
Routledge's "New Universal Library" 
under the title Early Essays on Social 
Philosophy. The references added in 

(NOTES TO PAGES 131-136) 229 

brackets to those of the O.S.S.E refer 
to this English edition. 

135. O.S.S.E.,XX,pp. 118-9 (56-7). 

136. lbid.,p.S5 (35). 

137. Ibid., pp. 137-9(68-71). 

138. Ibid., p. 106(49). 

139. Ibid., p. 142 (72); for Comte's 
considerations on the same subject a 
few years later see also (272-4). The 
fear that his proposals might one day 
lead to a "despotism founded on sci- 
ence," Comte describes as "a ridiculous 
and absurd chimera which could only 
arise in minds entirely foreign to posi- 
tive ideas." Ibid., p. 158 (82). 

140. Ibid., p. 161 (85). 

141. Ibid., p. 150 (77). 

142. Ibid., pp. 144-5 (73): "Lepeu- 
ple n'a plus besoin d'etre gouvern6, 
c'est-a-dire command6. II suffit, pour 
le maintien de 1'ordre, que les affaires 
d'un interet commun soient adminis- 

143. Ibid., XX, p. 193. Cf. also 
the passage in Saint-Simon's later Or- 
ganisation sociale, ibid., Vol. XXXIX, 
p. 136, and Comte's remarks on the 
same subject in his contribution to the 
Catechisme des Industriels in Early 
Essays, p. 172. 

144. Ibid., XX, p. 194. 

145. Ibid., pp. 194-5. 

146. Ibid., XX, pp. 199-200. 

147. /ta/., pp. 218, 226. 

148. Ibid., p. 220. 

149. Ibid., pp. 236-7. 

150. Ibid., pp. 240-242. 

151. Ibid., Vols. XXI, XXII. 

152. Ibid., Vol. XXI, p. 16. The 
phrasing of these passages is so clearly 
Comtian that there can be little doubt 
that they were written by Comte. 

153. Sy steme industriel (original 
edition) pp. xiii-xiv. 

154. O.S.S.E., XXI, p. 83. See also 
XXII, p. 179. 

155. Ibid., XXI, p. 14; XXII, p. 

156. Des Bourbons et des Stuarts 

230 (NOTES TO PAGES 136-139) 

(1825) in (Euvres Choisies, Vol. II, 
p. 447. 

157. O.5.5..,XXU,p.248.Seealso 
p. 258, and XXI, pp. 14 and 80, and 
XXXVII, p. 179, where his disgust with 
the lack of organization in England 
finds expression in the characteristic 
outburst that "Cent volumes in-folio, 
du caractere le plus fin, ne suffiraient 
pas pour rendre compte de toutes les 
inconsequences organiques qui existent 
en Angleterre." 

158. O.S.S.E., XXII, p. 188. 

159. Ibid., p. 148. 

160. Ibid., XXI, p. 20. 

161. Ibid., XXXVII-XXXIX. 

162. Ibid., XXII, p. 82. See also 
XXI, pp. 131-2. 

163. Ibid., XXI, p. 47. 

164. Ibid., XXI, p. 161. 

165. Ibid., XXI, p. 107. 

166. Ibid., XXII, pp. 80, 185. 

167. Ibid., XXXVII, p. 87. See also 
XXI, p. 151. The formula seems to 
have been originally Comte's (see 
above, p. 133) and was later taken 
over by the Saint-Simonians (see par- 
ticularly Exposition, ed. Bougie and 
Halevy, p. 162), in whose publications 
it occurs once in the form "H s'agit 
pour lui (le travailleur) non seulement 
d'administrer des choses, mais de gou- 
verner des hommes, ceuvre difficile, 
immense, oeuvre saint" (Globe, April 
4th, 1831). Engel's use of the expres- 
sion in the Anti-Duhring (Herrn Eugen 
Diihring's Umwalzung der Wissen- 
schaft, 3rd ed., 1894, p. 302) runs 
in the original: "An die Stelle der 
Regierung iiber Personen tritt die Ver- 
waltung von Sachen. Der Staat wird 
nicht 'abgeschafft,' er stirbt ab." 

168. O.S.S.E., XXXVII, p. 8. 

169. Ibid., XXII, pp. 257-8. 

170. Later included under the orig- 
inal title in the Early Essays on Social 
Philosophy, pp. 88-217. 

171. Early Essays, Author's Preface, 
p. 24. 

1 72. Leaving it open as to how much 
of this "Saint-Simonian" doctrine may 
not be due to Comte's earlier contribu- 

173. Early Essays, pp. 96, 98. 

174. Ibid., p. 97. This has now of 
course become orthodox Marxist doc- 
trine. Cf. Lenin, "What is to be done?" 
(in Little Lenin Library), p. 14: 
"Those who are really convinced that 
they have advanced science, would de- 
mand not freedom for the new views 
to continue side by side with the old, 
but the substitution of the old views 
by the new ones." 

175. Early Essays, pp. 130, 136, 107. 

176. Ibid., pp. 200-1. 

177. Ibid., pp. 131-2. 

178. Ibid., pp. 147-9, 157. 

179. Ibid., pp. 144, 133. 

180. Ibid., pp. 144, 149. 

181. Early Essays, pp. 191, 180. 

182. Ibid., p. 165. Compare for a 
use of the same terms by Engels in his 
exposition of the materialist interpre- 
tation of history his Herrn Eugen Dii- 
hring's Umwalzung der Wissenschaft 
(English ed., Herrn Eugen Diihring's 
Revolution in Science, p. 300, trans, by 
E. Burns, where he says that the means 
by which the existing abuses can be got 
rid of "are not to be invented by the 
mind, but discovered by means of the 
mind in the existing factors of produc- 

183. Ibid., pp. 154, 165, 167, 170. 

184. Although the influence of 
Saint-Simonian doctrine on the birth 
of the materialist interpretation of his- 
tory has often been pointed out (see 
particularly F. Muckle, Henri de Saint- 
Simon, Jena, 1908, and W. Sulzbach, 
Die Anfange der materialistischen Ge- 
schichtsauffassung, Karlsruhe, 1911), 
these authors appear to have all over- 
looked that the crucial passages occur 
nearly always in works which are 
known to have been written by Comte. 

185. Producteur, Vol. I, 1825, pp. 

289, 596; Vol. II, 1825, pp. 314, 348; 
and Vol. IU, 1826, p. 450. These essays 
have been included by Comte in the 
collection of Early Essays in the ap- 
pendix to the Politique positive and 
will be found in the English edition 
(pp. 217-275 and 276-332) under the 
titles "Philosophical Considerations of 
the Sciences and Men of Science" and 
"Considerations on the Spiritual 

186. Early Essays, p. 229. 

187. In a review of F. J. V. Brous- 
sais, De V irritation et de la folie, 1828, 
published in the same year and also 
included in the Early Essays. See par- 
ticularly p. 339. 

188. Ibid., p. 219. 

189. Ibid., pp. 295, 281. 

190. Ibid., p. 250. 

191. Ibid., pp. 306, 320-324. 

192. Ibid.,p.2%2. 

193. Ibid., p. 281. The curious simi- 
larity of this statement to certain 
thoughts of Hegel, which will occupy 
us later, will not escape the reader. 

194. Ibid., p. 307. 

195. Ibid., pp. 319-20: "Every doc- 
trine presupposes a founder." 

196. Ibid.,p. 301. 

197. J. S. Mill, Autobiography, 
1873, p. 213. 

198. O.S.S.E., XXIII, p. 99. 

199. Ibid., p. 152. 

200. Ibid., Vol. XV, p. 82. 

201. H. Gouhier, La jeunesse d'Au- 
guste Comte, Vol. II, p. 3. 

202. Quoted by G. Pinet, Ecrivains 
et Penseurs Poly technicians, 2nd ed., 
Paris, 1898, p. 180, from the Livre 
nouveau, Resume des conferences 
faites d Menilmontant. 

203. On Enfantin and the Saint- 
Simonians generally see S. Charlety, 
Histoire du Saint-Simonisme, Paris, 
1896 (new ed., 1931), still the best 
exposition of the Saint-Simonian move- 
ment. It is rather surprising that En- 

( NOTES TO PAGES 139-145) 231 

fantin himself has not yet been made 
the subject of a monograph. S. Charl- 
ety, bn fantin, Paris, 1930, is merely a 
useful collection of texts with a brief 

204. !S. Charlety, Enfantin, p. 2. 

205. Cf. H. Grossmann, "ihe Evo- 
lutionist Revolt against Classical Eco- 
nomics," Journal of Political Economy, 
October 1943, who contends that in this 
exposition I have overrated the orig- 
inality of the Saint-Simonians at the 
expense of Saint-Simon himself. I am 
quite ready to agree that nearly all 
the elements of their system can be 
found in works that appeared during 
Saint-Simon's life and under his name 
(though partly written by Comte and 
probably others); but they are there 
so mixed up with other and in part 
contradictory ideas that I should rate 
the achievement of something like a 
coherent system by his disciples con- 
siderably higher than Dr. Grossmann 

206. "Le travail de M. A. Comte . . . 
a servi a plusieurs entre nous d'intro- 
duction a la doctrine de Saint-Simon." 
Doctrine de Saint-Simon, Exposition, 
Premiere Annee, ed. Bougie and E. 
Halevy, Paris, 1924, p. 443. Comte 
(in a letter to G. d'Eichthal, Dec. 11, 
1829) claims even more influence on 
the Saint-Simonians: "Vous savez fort 
bien que je les ai vus naitre, si je ne 
les ai formes (ce dont je serais du reste 
fort loin de me glorifier) . . . ; les pr6- 
tendues pensees de ces messieurs ne 
sont autre chose qu'une derivation ou 
plutot une mauvaise transformation de 
conceptions que j'ai presentees et qu'ils 
ont gat6es en y mettant les conceptions 
h6terogenes dues a ... Saint-Simon." 
E. Littr6, Auguste Comte et la philoso- 
phic positive, Paris, 1863, pp. 173-4. 

207. Producteur, Vol. 1, 1825, Intro- 

208. On Hazard see W. Spiihler, Der 
Saint-Simonismus. Lehre und Leben 

232 (NOTES TO PAGES 145-149) 

von Saint-Amand Bazard (^Lurcher 
Volkswirtschaftliche Forschungen, hg. 
v. M. Saitzew, No. 7) Zurich, 1926. 

209. See Louis Reybaud, Etudes sur 
les rtformateurs contemporians ou so- 
cialistes modernes, Brussels, 1841, p. 
61: "M. Enfantin trouvait la pense, 
M. Bazard la formulait." Compare 
also: C. Gide and C. Rist, Histoire des 
doctrines Iconomiques, 4th ed., 1922, 
p. 251. 

210. Producteur, Vol. I, p. 83. 

211. Producteur, Vol. I, pp. 399 et 
seq; Vol. Ill, pp. 110 and 526 et seq. 
Bazard's articles were the immediate 
occasion for one of Benjamin Con- 
stant's most eloquent essays in defence 
of liberty. 

212. Producteur, Vol. Ill, p. 74. 

213. Producteur, Vol. IV, p. 86. 

214. O.S.S.E., Vol. XXIV, p. 86. In 
a letter to Fourael of June, 1832 
(quoted by G. Pinet, "L'Ecole Poly- 
technique et les Saint-Simoniens," Re- 
vue de Paris, May 15, 1894, p. 85), 
Enfantin describes the Ecole Poly- 
technique as "la source pre*cieuse ou 
notre famille nouvelle, germe de Fhu- 
manite* future, a puise* la vie. Or, le 
proletaire et le savant aiment et re- 
spectent cette glorieuse Ecole." 

215. See Ch. Pellarin, Jules Leche- 
valier et Abel Transom, Paris, 1877, 
which, however, deals largely with the 
part the two men played later in 
the Fourierist movement. Lechevalier, 
after studying German philosophy in 
France, actually spent a year in Berlin 
in 1829-30 to attend Hegel's lectures. 

216. See Sadi Carnot, Biographic et 
manuscrit publies sous les auspices de 
l'Acad6mie des sciences avec une pre*- 
face de M. Emile Picard, Paris, 1927, 
p. 17-20. Cf . also G. Mouret, Sadi Car- 
not et la science de I'energie, Paris, 
1892. The Reflexions sur la puissance 
motrice du feu appeared in 1824, al- 

though their importance was recog- 
nised only much later. 

217. See H. Carnot, "Sur le Saint- 
Simonisme," Seances et travaux de 
r Academic de sciences morales at poli- 
tiques, 47 annee, nouvelle serie tome 
XXVIII, 1887, p. 132. 

218. See H. Carnot, "Sur le Saint- 
Simonisme," Seances et travaux de 
l f Academic de sciences morales et poli- 
tiques, 47" annee, nouvelle serie tome 
XX VIII, 1887, p. 129. 

219. Doctrine de Saint-Simon, Ex- 
position, Premiere Annee, 1829, Paris, 
1830. Deuxieme Annee, 1829-30, 
Paris, 1831. An excellent edition with 
a valuable introduction and instructive 
notes by C. Bougie and E. Halevy was 
published in the Collection des Econo- 
mistes et Reformateurs Franfais, Paris, 
1924. It is to this edition that all the 
page references below refer. 

220. C. Bougie in his Introduction 
to E. Halevy, L'Ere des Tyrannies, 
Paris, 1938, p. 9. 

221. [Abel Transon], De la religion 
Saint-Simonienne. Aux Elcves de 
I'Ecole Poly technique. First published 
in the (second) Organisateur, July- 
Sept., 1829, and reprinted separately, 
Paris, 1830, and Brussels, 1831, and at 
the end of the second edition of the 
Exposition, Deuxieme Annee 1 1829-30. 
A German translation appeared at 
Gottingenin 1832. 

222. Exposition, ed. Bougie and 
Halevy, p. 127. 

223. lbid.,pp. 131, 160. 

224. Ibid., p. 89. 

225. Ibid., p. 27. 

226. Ibid., p. 162. 

227. Ibid., p. 206. 

228. Ibid., pp. 139, 89. 

229. Ibid., pp. 73, 124, 153. 

230. Ibid., pp. 203, 206, 234, 253. 

231. Ibid., pp. 236, 350. 

232. Ibid., pp. 208-9. 

233. Exposition, ed. Bougl6 and 
Hatevy, pp. 214-216, 238. 

234. Ibid., p. 225. 

235. Ibid., pp. 239, 307. 

236. De la religion Saint-Simoni- 
enne, Paris, 1830, pp. 48-9. 

237. Exposition, ed. Bougl6 and 
Hal6vy, p. 243. 

238. Exposition, ed. Bougl6 and 
Hal6vy, p. 244. 

239. Ibid., pp. 253-4. 

240. Ibid., p. 255. 

241. The French word "fonction" of 
course also means "office." 

242. Exposition, ed. Bougie and 
Halevy, p. 257. 

243. In a letter to Channing in 1831 
he admitted "I have shown the defects 
of the system of free competition, I 
have demolished, but I lack the strength 
to reconstruct.'* J. C. L. Simonde de 
Sismondi, Fragments de son journal et 
de sa correspondance, Geneve-Paris, 
1857, p. 130. On the general influence 
of Sismondi which can here not be ade- 
quately discussed see J. R. de Salis, 
Sismondi, Paris, 1932. 

244. Exposition, p. 258. 

245. Ibid., pp. 258-9. 

246. Ibid., p. 261. 

247. Exposition, pp. 272-3. It may 
be noted that this seems to be the first 
occurrence of the term "central bank." 

248. The following passage from the 
Exposition, Deuxieme Annee (Pre- 
miere Seance, R6sume de 1'exposition 
de la premiere annee, ed. 1854, pp. 
338-9), deserves, however, to be 
quoted: "Pour que cette association in- 
dustrielle soit ralis6e et produise tous 
ses fruits, il faut qu'elle constitue une 
hierarchic, il faut qu'une vue generate 
pr6side a ses travaux et les harmonise 
. . . il faut absolument que 1'Etat soit 
en possession de tous les instruments 
de travail qui forment aujourd'hui le 
fonds de la proprie"t6 individuelle, et 
que les directeurs de la soci6t6 indus- 
trielle soient charges de la distribution 
de ces instruments, fonction que rem- 
plissent aujourd'hui d'une maniere si 

(NOTES TO PAGES 149-152) 233 

aveugle et a si grands frais les propri- 
etaires et capitalistes . . . alors seule- 
ment on verra cesser la scandale de la 
concurrence illimitee, cette grande n- 
gation critique dans 1'ordre industriel, 
et qui, considree sous son respect le 
plus saillant, n'est autre chose qu'une 
guerre acharnee et meurtriere, sous 
une forme nouvelle, que continuent se 
faire entre eux les individus et les na- 
tions." The opening of the passage 
shows clearly that at this stage they 
were using the term "association," in 
precisely the sense in which two years 
later they introduced the term "so- 

249. See below, part HI. 

250. Exposition, p. 377. See, how- 
ever, A. Comte in Lettres a Valat, pp. 
164-5, for an informal use of the term 
in a letter dated March 30, 1825. 

251. Ibid., p. 275. "Industrialism" 
was coined by Saint-Simon himself to 
describe the opposite of Liberalism. See 
O.S.S.E., XXXVII, pp. 178, 195. 

252. Ibid., pp. 487, 183. 

253. Ibid., pp. 139, 98. 

254. Strictly speaking both the 
terms "socialist" and "socialism" had 
already been used in Italian (by G. 
Guiliani) in 1803, but had been forgot- 
ten. Independently of this, "socialist" 
occurs once in the Owenite Co-opera- 
tive Magazine for November, 1827, 
and "socialism" (although in a differ- 
ent sense) in a French Catholic journal 
in November, 1831. But it was only 
with its appearance in the Globe that 
it was immediately taken up and fre- 
quently used, particularly by Leroux 
and Reybaud. See C. Griinberg, "Der 
Ursprung der Worte 'Sozialismus' und 
'Sozialist,' " Archiv fiir die Geschichte 
des Sozialismus und der Arbeiterbe- 
wegung, Vol. H, 1912, p. 378. Cf. also 
Exposition, ed. Bougl6 and Hal6vy, p. 
205, note. 

255. Le Globe, February 2, 1832. 
The word occurs in an article by H. 

234 (NOTES TO PAGES 152-157) 

Jonc&res and the context in which it 
occurs is so significant that the whole 
sentence may be quoted: "Nous ne 
voulons pas sacrifier la personalite aux 
socialisme, pas plus que ce dernier & 
la personalite." 

256. Some of the articles of Enfan- 
tin in the Globe which have been col- 
lected in a separate volume under the 
title Economic politique et Politique 
(Paris, 1832) deserve, however, to be 
specially mentioned. 

257. A curious account of the motif 
for this is given by Eduard Cans, 
"Paris in Jahre 1830," in Ruckblicke 
auf Personen und Zustande, Berlin 
1836, p. 92: "Benjamin Constant er- 
zahlte mir, dass, als die St.-Simonisten 
ihn vor etwa einem Jahr um Rath ge- 
fragt batten, wie sic ihre Grundsatze 
verbreiten konnten, er ihnen gesagt 
babe: macht eine Religion daraus." 

258. See H. R. d'Allemagne, Les 
Saint'Simoniens 1827-1837, Paris, 

259. See G. Pinet, Ecrivains et pen- 
seurs polytechniciens, 2nd ed., Paris, 
1898, p. 176, and S. Charlety, Hlstoire 
du Saint-Simonisme, 1931, p. 29. 

260. See G. Weill, "Le Saint-Simon- 
isme hors de France," Revue d'histoire 
economique et sociale, Vol. IX, 1921, 
p. 105. A Saint-Simonian mission con- 
sisting of P. Leroux, H. Carnot and 
others had visited Brussels in February, 
1831; and although, apart from the re- 
marks of Weill just quoted, there is no 
direct evidence for the influence of the 
Saint-Simonians on Quetelet, it is re- 
markable how precisely from this date 
his ideas developed in a direction very 
similar to Comte's. On this see J. Lot- 
tin, Quetelet, statisticien et sociologue, 
Louvain and Paris, 1912, pp. 123, 356- 
367, also 10 and 21. 

261. UOrganisateur, Vol. II, pp. 
202, 213, quoted by C. Chartety, His- 
toire du Saint-Simonisme, 1931, p. 83. 

262. Globe, June 3 and 8, 1831, 
quoted by Charl6ty, I.e., p. 110. 

263. Karl Gutzkow, Brief e eines 
Narren an eine Ndrrin, 1832, quoted 
by E. M. Butler, The Saint-Simonian 
Religion in Germany, Cambridge, 
1926, p. 263. 

264. Duveyrier, e.g., one of the old- 
est members, wrote in the Globe of 
January 12, 1832: "On verrait sur la 
terre ce qu'on n'a jamais vu. On verrait 
des hommes et des femmes unis par un 
amour sans example et sans nom, puis- 
qu'il ne connaitrait ni le refroidisse- 
ment, ni la jalousie; des hommes et des 
femmes se donneraient a plusieurs sans 
jamais cesser d'etre Tun a 1'autre et 
dont I'amour serait au contraire comme 
un divin banquet augmentant en mag- 
nificence en raison du nombre et du 
choix des convives." 

265. Apparently the expression 
chercher* a femme derives from this. 

266. See J. Lajard de Puyjalon, L* In- 
fluence des Saint'Simoniens sur la real- 
isation de Vlsthme de Suez, Paris, 1926. 

267. See M. Wallon, Les Saint-Sim- 
oniens et les chemins de fer, Paris, 
1908, and H. R. d'Allemagne, Prosper 
Enfantin et les grandes entreprises du 
XlXsiecle, Paris, 1935. 

268. On this and the following see 
M. Thibert, Le Role social de Van d'ap- 
res les Saint-Simoniens, Paris, 1927, H. 
J. Hunt, Le Socialisme et le Roman- 
tisme en France, Etude de la Presse 
Socialiste de 1830 a 1848, Oxford, 
1935, and J.-M. Gros, Le Mouvement 
Litteraire Socialiste Depuis 1830, Paris, 

269. For the development of the 
Saint-Simonian theory of art, see par- 
ticularly E. Barrault, Aux Artistes du 
Pass6 et de I'Avenir des Beaux Arts, 

270. See R. Curtius, Balzac, 1923. 

271. See D. B. Cofer, Saint-Simon- 
ism in the Radicalism of T. Carlyle, 

College Station (Texas) 1931; F. 
Muckle, Henri de Saint Simon, Jena, 
1908, pp. 345-380; E. d'Eichthal, "Car- 
lyle et le Saint-Simonisme," Revue 
Historique, vol. 82-3, 1903 (English 
translation in the New Quarterly, vol. 
II, London, April 1909); E. E. Neff, 
Carlyle and Mill, New York, 1926, p. 
210; Hill Shine, Carlyle and the Saint- 
Simonians. The Concept of Historical 
Periodicity. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins 
University Press, 1941; and the same 
author's note in Notes & Queries, 
CLXXI, 1936, pp. 290-293. Why in the 
case of Carlyle, as with so many others, 
the influence of the Saint-Simonians 
blended so readily with that of the 
German philosophers will become 
clearer later. An interesting contrast to 
Carlyle's sympathetic reception of 
Saint-Simonian ideas is the exceeding- 
ly hostile reaction of R. Southey, who 
contributed to the Quarterly Review 
(Vol. XLV, July, 1831, pp. 407-450) 
under the heading "New Distribution 
of Property" a very full and intelligent 
account of the Doctrine de Saint-Si- 
mon. See also his letter of June 31, 
1831 in E. Hodder, The Life and Work 
of the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, Lon- 
don 1886, vol. I, p. 126. Tennyson, in 
a letter written in 1832, still says that 
"reform and St. Simonism are, and 
will continue to be, subjects of the 
highest interest .... the existence of 
the sect of St. Simonists is at once a 
proof of the immense mass of evil that 
is extant in the nineteenth century, 
and a focus which gathers all its rays. 
This sect is rapidly spreading in France, 
Germany, and Italy, and they have mis- 
sionaries in London." (Alfred Lord 
Tennyson, A Memoir by his son, Lon- 
don, 1897, vol. L, p. 99.) It is a strik- 
ing fact that the social novel begins in 
England with Disraeli just at the time 
when one would expect Saint-Simonian 
influences to work in this direction; but 
there is, as far as I am aware, no evi- 

(NOTES TO PAGES 157-159) 235 

dence of any influence of the Saint- 
Simonians on Disraeli. 

272. See C. G. Higginson, Auguste 
Comte, An Address on his Life and 
Work, London, 1892 p. 6, and M. 
Quinn, Memoirs of a Positivist t Lon- 
don, 1924, p. 38. 

273. J. S. Mill, Autobiography, 
1873, pp. 163-167. See also ibid. f p. 61, 
where Mill describes how in 1821, at 
the age of fifteen, he had met in J. B. 
Say's house Saint-Simon himself, "not 
yet the founder of either a philosophy 
or a religion, and considered only as a 
clever original." 

274. G. d'Eichthal and C. Duveyrier 
came in 1831 to London on an official 
Saint-Simonian mission. See the Ad- 
dress to the British Public by the Saint- 
Simonian Missionaries, London, 1832, 
and S. Charl6ty, Histoire du Saint-Si- 
monisme, Paris, 1931, p. 93. See also 
St. Simonism in London, by Fon- 
tana, Chief, and Prati, Preacher of the 
St. Simonian Religion in England, 
London, 1834, reviewed by J. S. Mill in 
The Examiner, February 2, 1834. 

275. The Letters of John Stuart 
Mill, ed. by H. S. R. Elliot, 1910, Vol. I, 
p. 20. See also J. S. Mill, Correspond- 
ance inedite avec Gustave d'Eichthal, 
1828-1842, 1864-1871, ed. by E. 
d'Eichthal, Paris, 1898, and also, in 
part in the original English, in Cosmop- 
olis, London, 1897-8, especially Vol. 
V, pp. 356 and 359-60. 

276. The Globe of March 16th, 
1832, already reports that "mil pays 
n'a consacr6 une attention plus pro- 
fonde au Saint-Simonisme" than Ger- 

277. See H. Fournel. Bibliographic 
Saint-Simonienne, Paris, 1933, p. 22. 

278. See P. Lafitte. "Mat6riaux pour 
la Biographic d' Auguste Comte. I. Re- 
lations d'Auguste Comte avec 1'Allem- 
agne." Revue Occidental, Vol. VIII, 
1882, premier semestre, p. 227, and 
"Correspondance d'Auguste Comte et 

236 (NOTES TO PAGES 159-160) 

Gustave d'Eichthal," ibid., Second 
*6rie, Vol. XII, 1891, premier semestre, 
pp. 186-276. 

279. Ibid., p. 228 and pp. 223 et seq., 
where the review, dated Sept 27th, 
1824, is reprinted. It gives among other 
things an adequate account of the "law 
of three stages." 

280. Neue Monatsschrift fur 
Deutschland, Vol. XXI, 1821 (three 
articles) and Vol. XXII, 1827 (three 
articles); see also Vols. XXXIV and 
XXXV for later articles on the same 
subject. On Friedrich Buchholz, who 
for a period earlier in the century had 
been one of the most influential polit- 
ical writers of Prussia, and who in 1802 
had published a Darstellung eines 
neuen Gravitationsgestzes filer die mo- 
ralische Welt, see K. Bahrs, Friedrich 
Buchholz, ein preussischer Publizist 
1768-1843, Berlin, 1907, and on 
d'Eichthal's relations to him particu- 
larly, "Correspondance d'Auguste 
Comte et Gustave d'Eichthal," Revue 
Occidentale, Vol. XII, premier semes- 
tre, Paris, 1891, pp. 186-276. 

281. See the list of some fifty pub- 
lications on Saint-Simonism which ap- 
peared in Germany between 1830 and 
1832, given by E. M. Butler, The Saint- 
Simonian Religion in Germany, Cam- 
bridge, 1926, pp. 52-59, which is, how- 
ever, by no means complete. On this see 
R. Palgen's review of this book in 
Revue de Lltterature Comparee, Vol. 
DC, 1929; also W. Suhge, Der Saint- 
Simonismus und das junge Deutsch- 
land, Berlin, 1935. 

282. See [Abel Transon], Die Saint- 
Simonistische Religion. Funf Reden 
an die Zoglinge der polytechnischen 
Schule, nebst einem Vorbericht ueber 
das Leben und den Charakter Saint- 
Simons, Gottingen, 1832. 

283. Quoted by Butler, I.e., from 
Brief e, Weimarer Ausgabe, Vol. XLII, 
p. 300, letter dated October 17th, 1830. 

284. See Eckermann, Gesprdche 

mit Goethe, under October 20th, 1830, 
and Goethe's Tagebucher, under Oc- 
tober 31st, 1830, and May 30th, 1831. 

285. Rahel. Ein Buch det Anden- 
kens fur ihre Freunde, Berlin, 1834, 
under the date of April 25th, 1832. 

286. See Butler, I.e., p. 70. 

287. K. Grim, Die soziale Bewe- 
gung in Frankreich und in Belgien, 
Darmstadt, 1845, p. 90. 

288. See Margaret A. Clarke, Heine 
et la monarchic de juillet, Paris 1927, 
especially Appendix II. Butler, I.e., p. 
7 1. It seems that some over-enthusiastic 
German admirers of Saint-Simon even 
compared him to Goethe, which in- 
duced Metternich (in a letter to Prince 
Wittgenstein, dated Nov. 30th, 1835) 
to make the tart comment that Saint- 
Simon, whom he had known person- 
ally, "had been as complete a cynical 
fool as Goethe was a great poet." See 
O. Draeger, Theodor Mundt und seine 
Beziehungen zum jungen Deutschland, 
Marburg, 1909, p. 156. 

289. Ibid, p. 430. Cf., in addition to 
the book by Suhge already quoted also 
F. Gerathewohl, Saint-Simonistische 
Ideen in der deutschen Literatur, Ein 
Beitrag zur Vorgeschichte des Sozia- 
lismus, Munich, 1920; H. v. Kleinmayr, 
Welt- und Kunstanschauung des jungen 
Deutschlands, Vienna, 1930, and J. 
Dresch, Gutzkow et la Jeune Alle- 
magne, Paris, 1904, on another Ger- 
man poet G. Buechner, who was not a 
member of the Young German group, 
but seems also to have been influenced 
by Saint-Simonian ideas. It is perhaps 
worth mentioning that he was the elder 
brother of L. Buechner, author of 
Kraft und Stoft (1855), and one of the 
main representatives of extreme ma- 
terialism in Germany. On G. Buechner, 
cf., also G. Adler, Geschichte der 
ersten sozialpolitischen Arbeiterbewe- 
gung in Deutschland, Dresden, 1885, 
pp. 8 et seq., which should also be con- 
sulted for some other early German 

socialists, particularly Ludwig Gall 
and later Georg Kuhlmann and Julius 
Treichler, whose relations to Saint- 
Simonism need investigation. (Ibid., 
pp. 6, 67, 72). 

290. An interesting testimony to the 
extent of Saint-Simonian influence in 
Germany is a circular directed against 
it by the Archbishop of Trier, dated 
February 13, 1832. See the Allgemeine 
Kirchenzeitung, Darmstadt, March 8, 

291. See B. Croce, History of 
Europe in the 19th century, 1934, p. 

292. Of the young Germans. T. 
Mundt and G. Kuehne were both 
Hegelian University lecturers of philos- 
ophy, and the same is true of the 
authors of most of the books reporting 
on the philosophical aspects of Saint- 
Simonism, particularly M. Veit, Saint- 
Simon und der Saint-Simonismus, Leip- 
zig, 1834; F. W. Carov6, Der Saint- 
Simonismus und die neure franzos- 
ische Philosophic, Leipzig, 1831. I 
have been unable to procure another 
work of the same period, S. R. Schnei- 
der, Das Problem der Zeit und dessen 
Losung durch die Association, Gotha, 
1834, which judging from its title seems 
to contain an account of the socialist 
aspects of Saint-Simonism. 

293. Cf. B. Groethuysen, "Les 
jeunes H6g61iens et les Origines du So- 
cialisme en Allemagne," Revue Philos- 
ophique, Vol. 95, no. 5/6, 1923, par- 
ticularly p. 379. 

294. In a review of his friend 
Mundt's Lebenswirren, quoted by W. 
Grupe, Mundts und Kuehnes Verhalt- 
nis zu Hegel und seinen Gegnern, 
Halle, 1928, p. 76. 

295. In 1831, when the German 
Saint-Simonian movement began, Ruge 
was 29, Feuerbach 27, Rodbertus 26, 
Strauss 23, Hess 19, and Karl Marx 12 
years of age. The corresponding ages 
of the leading Young Germans were 

(NOTES TO PAGES 160-162) 237 

Laube 25, Kuehne 25, Mundt 23 and 
Gutzkow 20. 

296. See T. Zlocisti, Moses Hess, 
Berlin, 1920, p. 13. 

297. M. Hess. Die heilige Gcschichte 
der Menschheit, Stuttgart, 1837. 

298. See A. Kohut, L. Feuerbach, 
Leipzig, 1909, p. 77; and Ausgewdhlte 
Brief e von und an Feuerbach, ed. by 
W. Bolin, Leipzig, 1904, Vol. I, p. 256, 
where hi a letter to his brother, dated 
Frankfurt, March 12th, 1832, Feuer- 
bach explains that "Paris ist ein Ort, an 
den ich langst hinstrebe, fur den ich 
mich schon langst in einem unwill- 
kiirlichen Drange, indem ich das 
Franzosische schon friiher und be- 
sonders seither betrieb, vorbereitet, ein 
Ort, der ganz zu meiner Individuality, 
zu meiner Philosophic passt, an dem 
sich daher meine Krafte entwickeln 
und selbst solche, die ich noch nicht 
kenne, hervortreten koennen." 

299. See T. G. Masaryk, Die philo- 
sophischen und soziologischen Grund- 
lagen des Marxismus, Vienna, 1899, p. 

300. Cf. G. Adler, Die Geschichte 
der ersten sozialpolitischen Arbeiter- 
bewegung in Deutschland, Leipzig, 
1885, und K. Mielcke, Deutscher Friih- 
sozialismus, Stuttgart, 1931, pp. 185- 

301. Lorenz von Stein, Der Sozial- 
ismus und Kommunismus des heutigen 
Frankreich, Leipzig, 1842, and K. 
Grim, Die soziale Bewegung in Frank" 
reich und Belgien, Darmstadt, 1845. 
On the latter compare K. Marx and F. 
Engels, The German Ideology (Marx- 
ist Leninist Library), London, 1938, 
pp. 118-179. 

302. Cf. B. Foeldes, "Bemerkungen 
zu dem Problem Lorenz von Stein 
Karl Marx," Jahrbiicher fur National- 
okonomie und Statistik, Vol. 102, 1914, 
and H. Nitschke, Die Geschichtsphilos- 
ophie Lorenz von Steins (Beiheft No. 

238 (NOTES TO PAGES 162-163) 

26, Historische Zeitschrift) , Miinchen, 

303. See Maxim Kowalewski in: 
Karl Marx, Eine Sammlung von Erin- 
nerungen und Aufsatzen, herausge- 
geben von V. Adoratskij, Zurich, 1934, 
p. 223. Judging from a remark by W. 
Sulzbach in Die A nf tinge der material- 
istischen Geschichtsauffassung, Stutt- 
gart, 1911, p. 3, there seems to be also 
other independent evidence of Marx 
having studied Saint-Simonian writings 
while still at school. But I have been 
unable to trace it. 

304. Apart from various earlier 
works by Muckle, Eckstein, Cunow and 
Sulzbach, see particularly Kurt Breysig, 
Vom historischen Werden, Vol. II, pp. 
64 et seq. and 84 and W. Heider, Die 
Geschichtslehre von Karl Marx, 
"Forschungen" etc. ed. by K. Breysig, 
No. 3, 1931, p. 19. These suggestions 
have been confirmed by the careful in- 
vestigation by V. Volgin, "Ueber die 
historische Stellung Saint-Simons," 
Marx-Engels Archiv, Vol. I/I, Frank- 
furt a. M., 1926, pp. 82-118. 

305. Cf. G. Mayer, Friedrich Engels, 
Eine Biographic, Berlin, 1920. Vol. I, 
pp. 40 and 108. 

306. See H. Dietzel, Rodbertus, 
1888, Vol. I, p. 5, Vol. II, pp. 40, 44, 
51, 66, 132 et seq., 184-189; Ch. And- 
ler, Les origines du socialisme d'etat en 
Allemagne, Paris, 1897, pp. 107, 111; 
Ch. Gide and Ch. Rist, Histoire des 
doctrines economiques, Paris, 1909, pp. 
481, 484, 488, 490.; F. Muckle, Die 
grossen Sozialisten, Leipzig, 1920, Vol. 
H, p. 77; W. Eucken, "Zur Wiirdigung 
Saint-Simons," Jahrbuch fur Volks- 
wirtschaft und Gesetzgebung, Vol. 45, 
1921, p. 1052. The objections which 
have recently been raised against this 
contention by E. Thier, Rodbertus, Las- 
salle, Adolf Wagner, Zur Geschichte 
des deutschen Staatssozialismus, Jena, 
1930, pp. 15-16, seem to be due to an 

inadequate knowledge of the Saint- 
Simonian writings. 

307. See F. Mehring, Geschichte der 
deutschen Sozialdemokratie, 4th ed., 
1909, Vol. II, p. 180. 

308. See Ch. Andler, I.e., p. 101. 

309. Another curious and yet com- 
pletely unexplored case where Saint- 
Simonian influence on German thought 
seems to have been at work is that of 
the economist Friedrich List. There is 
at least evidence of his direct contact 
with Saint-Simonian circles. List came 
to Paris, which he had already visited 
in 1823-4, on his return from America 
in December, 1830. On his earlier visit 
he had already made the acquaintance 
of the first editor of the Revue Encyclo- 
pcedique, which during his second visit 
came into the hands of the Saint- 
Simonians and from August, 1831, on- 
wards was edited by H. Carnot. List's 
interest, as that of the Saint-Simonians, 
was largely in railway projects and any 
attempt to make contact with people of 
similar interests during his visit must 
have led him straight to the Saint- 
Simonians. We know that List met 
Chevalier early and that he at least 
tried to make the acquaintance of 
d'Eichthal. (See his Schriften, Reden, 
Brief e, ed, by the Friedrich List Gesell- 
schaft, Vol. IV, p 8.) Two of his ar- 
ticles on railways appeared in the 
Revue Encyclopcedique. I have not 
been able to ascertain whether the 
Globe, from which he quotes in one of 
these articles (a passage for which the 
unsuspecting editor of the Schriften 
searched in vain in the English Globe 
and Traveller,) was not, as seems much 
more likely, the Saint-Simonian Jour- 
nal of that name. (See Schriften, Vol. 
V, 1928, pp. 62 and 554.) Some years 
later List translated Louis Napoleon's 
Idees Napoleoniennes, the Saint-Si- 
monian tendencies of which we shall 
yet have to note. As it is now known 
that he wrote the first version of his 

chief work, the Nationale System der 
Politischen Oekonomie, during a third 
much more extended stay in Paris in 
the 'thirties as a prize essay and that in 
that essay he felt himself compelled to 
defend himself against any suspicion of 
"Saint-Simonism" in the sense of com- 
munism in which it was then generally 
understood (Schriften, Vol. IV, p. 
294), there can be little doubt that any 
marked resemblance to Saint-Simonian 
ideas we find in his later work are likely 
to be due to that source. And such 
similarities are indeed not wanting. Par- 
ticularly List's conception of "natural 
laws of historical development," ac- 
cording to which social evolution 
necessarily pass through definite stages, 
an idea readily accepted by the histori- 
cal school of German economists, is 
most likely of Saint-Simonian origin. 
How strong in general the French in- 
fluence on List was, of this his declama- 
tions against "ideology" bear witness. 
That the other German author from 
whom the historical school of German 
economists derived its preoccupation 
with the discovery of definite stages of 
economic development, B. Hilde- 
brandt, derived his ideas from the 
Saint-Simonians has been pointed out 
by J. Plenge, Stammformen der ver- 
gleichenden Wirtschaftstheorie, Essen, 
1919, p. 15. 

310. See H. Louvancour, De Henri 
Saint-Simon a Charles Fourier, Char- 
tres, 1913, and H. Bourgin, Fourier, 
Contribution a Vetude du socialisme 
Frangais, 1905, particularly pp. 415 et 

311. See M. Dommanget, Victor 
Consideranty Sa Vie, Son Oeuvre, Paris, 

312. On the Saint-Simonian ele- 
ments in Proudon's doctrine see partic- 
ularly K. Diehl. Proudbon, 1888-1896, 
Vol. HI, pp. 159, 176,280. 

313. There may even have been a 
direct influence on early English social- 

(NOTES TO PAGES 163-164) 239 

ism. At least one of T. Hodgskin's let- 
ters, written in 1820 soon after his re- 
turn from France, shows fairly definite 
traces of Saint-Simonian ideas. See E. 
Halevy, Thomas Hodgskin, Paris, 1903, 
pp. 58-9. 1 owe this reference to Dr. W. 

314. Mazzini was in the years be- 
tween 1830 and 1835, particularly dur- 
ing his exile in France, in intimate con- 
tact with the Saint-Simonians P. Ler- 
roux and J. Reynaud, and the effect of 
this can be traced throughout his work. 
See on this G. Salvemini, Mazzini (in 
G. d'Acandia, La Giovine Europa), 
Rome, 1915, passim, O. Vossler, Maz- 
zini's politisches Denken und Wollen 
(Beiheft No. 11 Historische, Zeitung) 
Munchen, 1927, pp. 42-52, and B. 
Croce, History of Europe, pp. 118, 142. 
On Mazzini's later critical attitude to- 
ward Saint-Simonism see his "thoughts 
on Democracy" in Joseph Mazzini, A 
Memoir by E. A. V[enturi], London, 
1875, particularly pp. 205-217. 

315. See G. Weill, "Le Saint-Simon- 
isme hors de France," Revue d'histoire 
economique et sociale, Vol. IX, 1921, 
p. 109, and O. Vossler, I.e., p. 44. 

316. See N. Mehlin, "Auguste Strind- 
berg," Revue de Paris, Vol. XIX, Oct. 
15th, 1912, p. 857. 

317. See A. Herzen, Le monde Russe 
et la revolution, Paris, 1860-62, Vol. 
VI, pp. 195 et seq. 

318. See G. Weill, I.e., and J. F. Nor- 
mano, Saint-Simonian America, Social 
Forces, Vol. DC, October, 1932. 

319. See Ernest Solvay, A propos 
de Saint-Simonisme (Principes libero- 
socialistes d'action sociale). Projet de 
lettre au journal Le Peuple, 1903 
(printed 1916). Cf. P. Heger and C. 
Lefebure, Vie d'Ernest Solvay, Brus- 
sels, 1929, pp. 77, 150. 

320. The post-war Product eur was 
published in Paris from 1919 by a 
group which included G. Darquet, G. 
Gros, H. Clouard, M. Leroy and F. 

240 (NOTES TO PAGES 164-166) 

Delaisi. See on this M. Bourbonnais, 
Les Neo-Saint'Simoniens et la vie so- 
ciale d'aujourd'bui, Paris, 1923. 

321. Cf. also G. J. Gignoux, "L'ln- 
dustrialisme de Saint-Simon a Walter 
Rathenau," Revue d'histoire des doc- 
trines economiques et soc tales, 1923, 
and G. Salomon, Die Saint-Simonisten, 
Zeitschrift fur die gesamte Staatswis- 
tenschaft, Vol. 82, 1927, pp. 550-576. 
On the influence Saint-Simonian ideas 
had in the conception of the corpora- 
tivist theories of Fascism see Hans 
Reupke, Unternehmer und A r better in 
der fascistischen Wirtschaftsidee, Ber- 
lin 1931, pp. 14, 18, 22, 29-30, 40. 

322. See Johann Plenge, Griindung 
und Geschichte des Credit Mobilier, 
Tubingen, 1903, particularly pp. 79 
et seq., and the passage quoted there 
on p. 139 from the Annual Report of 
the Cr6dit Mobilier for 1854: "Quand 
nous touchons a une branche de 1'in- 
dustrie, nous dsirons surtout obtenir 
son developpement non par la voie de 
la concurrence, mais par voie d* associa- 
tion et de fusion, par 1'emploi le plus 
economique des forces et non par leur 
opposition et leur destruction recipro- 

There is no space here for the dis- 
cussion of the Saint-Simonian theories 
of credit in the hands of the Pereires 
and we must refer in this respect to 
J. B. Vergeot, Le Credit comme stimu- 
lant et regulateur de V Industrie, La con- 
ception Saint-Simonienne, ses realisa- 
tions, etc., Paris, 1918, and K. Molden- 
hauer, Kreditpolitik und Gesellschafts- 
reform, Jena, 1932. But it may just be 
mentioned that the Pereires, after ac- 
quiring the Banque de Savoy with its 
note issuing privilege, hi order to be 
in a position to put their theories into 
practice, became ardent advocates of 
"free banking" and the cause of the 
great controversy between the **free 
banking" and the "central banking" 
school which raged hi France in and 

after 1864. On this see V. C. Smith, 
The Rationale of Central Banking, 
London, 1936, pp. 33 et seq. 

323. See J. Hansen, G. v. Mevissen, 
Berlin, 1906, Vol. I, pp. 60, 606, 644-6, 
655, and W. Daebritz, Griindung und 
Anfdnge der Discontogesellschaft, Ber- 
lin, Muenchen, 1931, pp. 34-36. 

324. See H. M. Hirschfeld, "Le 
Saint-Simonisme dans les Pays-Bas. Le 
Credit Mobilier Neerlandais": Revue 
d'Economie Politique, 1923, pp. 364- 

325. See F. G. Steiner, Die Entwick- 
lung des Mobilbankwesens in Oester- 
reich von den Anfangen bis zur Krise 
von 1873, Wien, 1913, pp. 38-78. 

326. See H. M. Hirschfeld, Der 
Credit-Mobilier Gedanke mit beson- 
derer Beriicksichtigimg seines Einflus- 
ses in den Niederlanden. Zeitschrift 
fur Volkswirtschaft und Sozialpolitik, 
N.F., Vol. Ill, 1923, pp. 438-465. 

327. See G. v. Schulze-Gaeveraitz, 
Die deutsche Kreditbank (Grundriss 
derSozialokonomikV/2) 1915, p. 146. 

328. See M. Wallon, Les Saint-Si- 
moniens et les Chemins de Per, Paris, 
1908, and H. R. d'Allemagne, Prosper 
Enfantin et les grandes entreprises du 
XlXsiecle, Paris, 1935. 

329. See the Vues politiques et pra- 
tiques sur les travaux publiques en 
France, published in 1832 by the four 
Saint-Simonian engineers, G. Lam6, 
B. P. E. Clapeyron and S. and E. 

330. Quoted by G. Pinet, Ecrivains 
et penseurs polytechniciens, Paris, 
1887, p. 165. 

331. See C. Pecqueur, Economic so- 
ciale: des interets du commerce, de J7fl- 
dustrie et de V agriculture, et de la civili- 
sation en general, sous Vinftuence des 
applications de la vapeur, Paris, 1838. 

332. Particularly Jourdan, an inti- 
mate friend of Enfantin, and Gu6rault. 
On the latter compare Saint-Beuve, 
Nouveaux Lundis, IV; and on Saint- 

Beuve's own relations to Saint-Simon- 
ism M. Leroy, "Le Saint-Simonisme de 
Saint-Beuve," Zeitschrift fur Sozialwis- 
senschaft, vol. VII, 1938, pp. 132-147. 

333. See A. Guerard, Napoleon 111, 
Harvard University Press 1943, p. 215, 
where this description of Napoleon III. 
is called "strikingly accurate"; and H. 
N. Boon, Reve et realite dans Voeuvre 
economique et sociale, The Hague 

334. Des Idles Napoleoniennes, 
1839, L'idee Napoleonienne, 1840, and 
De I extinction du pauperisme, 1844. 

335. On this whole phase of their ac- 
tivities see G. Weill, "Les Saint-Simoni- 
ens sous Napoleon III," Revue des 
etudes Napoleoniennes, May 1931, pp. 

336. Cf. E. Hal6vy, "La doctrine 
economique Saint-Simonienne," in 
L'Ere des Tyrannies, Paris, 1938, p. 91. 

337. See L. Brentano, "Die gewer- 
bliche Arbeiterfrage," in Schonberg's 
Handbuch der politischen Oekonomie, 
1st ed., 1882, p. 935 et seq. 

338. K. Griin, Die soziale Bewegung 
in Frankreich und Belgien, 1845, p. 
182. It is interesting to compare this 
statement with a manuscript note by 
Lord Acton (Cambridge University Li- 
brary, Acton 5487) in which, a propos 
Bazard, Acton says: "A system is shut 
in. It is the broken fragments of it, 
dissolved, that fructify." C/. also J. S. 
Mill, Principles of Political Economy, 
2nd ed., 1849, vol. I, p. 250: St. 
Simonism, "during the few years of its 
public promulgation, sowed the seeds 
of nearly all socialist tendencies which 
have since spread so widely in France'*; 
and W. Roscher, Geschichte der Na- 
tionalokonomik in Deutschland, 1874, 
p. 845: "Und es lasst sich nicht leugnen, 
wie diese Schriftsteller [Bazard, Enfan- 
tin, Comte, Considerant] an prakti- 
schem Enfluss auf ihre Zeit mit den 
heutigen Socialistenfiihrern gar nicht 
verglichen werden konnen, ebenso sehr 

(NOTES TO PAGES 166-168) 241 

uberragen sic die letztereren an wissen- 
schaftlicher Bedeutung. Es kommen in 
der neuesten socialistischen Literatur 
sehr wenig erhebliche Gedanken vor, 
die nicht bereits von jenen Franzosen 
ausgesprochen waren, noch dazu meist 
in einer viel wiirdigern, geistreichen 

339. Originally published in 1822 
under the title Prospectus des travaux 
necessaires pour reorganiser la societe 
and republished under the above title 
only in 1824. 

340. Page references to the Cours 
will be to the second edition, edited by 
E. Littr6, Paris, 1864, the pagination of 
which is identical with the third and 
fourth, but not with the first and fifth 
editions. English quotations in the text 
will be taken, wherever practicable, 
from the admirable condensed English 
version by Miss Martineau (The Posi- 
tive Philosophy of Auguste Comte. 
Freely translated and condensed by 
Harriet Martineau. Third edition in two 
volumes. London, 1893. In references 
to this edition the title will be abbrevi- 
ated as P.P. as distinguished from the 
French original referred to as Cours). 

Although the coincidence of the ex- 
act date is no more than an accident, 
it is perhaps worth pointing out that 
the year 1842, in which the concluding 
volume of the Cours appeared and 
which for our purposes thus marks the 
conclusion of the "French phase" of 
the strand of thought with which we 
are here concerned, is also the year 
which more than any other may be re- 
garded as the beginning of the "Ger- 
man phase" of the same development, 
with which we hope to deal on another 
occasion. In 1842 Lorenz von Stein's 
Sozialismus und Communismus im 
beutigen Frankreich and J. K. Rod- 
bertus' first work Zur Erkenntnis un- 
serer staatswirtschaftlichen Zustdnde 
appeared and Karl Marx sent his first 
essays to the publisher. In the preceding 

242 (NOTES TO PAGES 168-171) 

year Friedrich List had published his 
Nationale System der Politischen 
Oekonomie, and L. Feuerbach his 
Wesen des Christentums. In the follow- 
ing year there appeared W. Roscher's 
Grundriss zu Vorlesungen uber die 
Staatswirtschaft nach historischer 
Metbode. The special significance of 
this date in German intellectual history 
is well brought out by H. Freund, 
Soziologie und Sozialismus. Bin Beitrag 
zur Geschichte der deutschen Sozial- 
theorie um 1842. Wurzburg, 1934. 

341. Cours, II, p. 438. 

342. The essential unity of Comte's 
thought, which had always had its de- 
fenders, has since G. Dumas 1 investiga- 
tions (Psychologic de deux Messies 
positivistes, Paris, 1905) been accepted 
by practically all French scholars con- 
cerned with these questions. See on this 
the recent survey of the discussion in 
H. Gouhier, La jeunesse d'Auguste 
Comte, Vol. I, Paris, 1933, pp. 18-29, 
and the two works by P. Ducass6, 
Methode et intuition chez Auguste 
Comte and Essai sur I'origine intuitive 
du positivisme, both Paris, 1939. 

343. Cf. the interesting confession 
by Mr. H. G. Wells in his Experiment 
in Autobiography, London, 1934, p. 
658 : "Probably I am unjust to Comte 
and grudge to acknowledge a sort of 
priority he had in sketching the modem 
outlook. But for him, as for Marx, I 
have a real personal dislike." 

344. Cf. Cours, I, p. 9: "L'etat 
m6taphysique, qui n'est au fond qu'une 
simple modification general du pre- 
mier." Also IV, p. 213. 

345. Cf. L. Levy-Bruhl, La philos- 
ophic d'Auguste Comte, 4th ed., Paris, 
1921, p. 42, and Cours, V, p. 25. 

346. Cours, II, p. 312, and IV, p. 

347. Cpurs, HI, pp. 188-9: Le v6ri- 
table esprit g6n6ral de toute philos- 
ophic th6ologique ou m6taphysique 
consiste a prendre pour principle, dans 

1'explication des phenom&nes du monde 
exterieur, notre sentiment immediat des 
phenomenes humains; tandis que, au 
contraire, la philosophic positive est 
toujours caracterisee, non moins pro- 
fondement, par la subordination neces- 
saire et rationelle de la conception de 
1 homme a celle du monde. Quelle que 
soit 1'incompatibilite fondamentale 
manifested, a tant de titres, entre ces 
deux philosophies, par 1'ensemble de 
leur developpement successif, elle n'a 
point, en effet, d'autre origine essen- 
tielle, ni d'autre base permanente, que 
cette simple difference d'ordre entre 
ces deux notions 6galements indispens- 
ables. En faisant predominer, comme 
1'esprit humain a du, de toute n6cessit6, 
le faire primitivement, la consideration 
de Thomme sur celle du monde, on est 
inSvitablement conduit a attribuer tous 
les phenomenes a des volontes cor- 
respondantes, d'abord naturelles, et en- 
suite extra-naturelles, ce qui constitute 
le systeme theologique. L'etude directe 
du monde exterieur a pu seule, au con- 
traire, produire et d6velopper la grande 
notion des lois de la nature, fondement 
indispensable de toute philosophic pos- 
itive, et qui, par suite de son extension 
graduelle et continue a des phenomenes 
de moins en moins r6guliers, a du etre 
enfin appliquee a l'6tude meme de 
rhomme et de la societ6, dernier terme 
de son entiere g6n6ralisation. . . . 
L'6tude positive n'a pas de caractere 
plus tranch6 que sa tendance spontan6e 
et invariable a baser 1'etude reelle de 
Fhomme sur la connaissance prSalable 
du monde ext6rieur." Cf. also IV, pp. 

348. Cours, IV, p. 256. 

349. Cours, I, p. 16, cf. also II, p. 
3 12, IV, p. 230. 

350. Cours, I, p. 12. 

351. Cours, VI, p. 600. Cf. Early 
Essays on Social Philosophy, translated 
from the French of Auguste Comte by 
H. D. Hutton, London (Routledge's 

New Universal Library), 1911, p. 223. 
As it is of some interest that nearly all 
the basic ideas were already clearly 
stated in Comte's Early Essays, refer- 
ences to the corresponding passages in 
these will occasionally be added to the 
references to the Cours. 

352. Cf. L. Grunicke, Der Begriff 
der Tatsache in der positivistischen 
Philosophic des 19. Jabrhunderts, 
Halle, 1930. 

353. Cours, VI, pp. 402-3, cf. also I, 
pp. 30-32: "L'organe observe et 1'or- 
gane observateur tant, dans ce cas, 
identique, comment 1'observation pour- 
rait-elle avoir lieu?", and III, pp. 538- 
541. P.P. II, 385, and I, 9-10, 381-2. 

354. Cours, I, p. 30. 

355. Cours, III, p. 535. 

356. Cours, III, p. 540. 

357. Cours, III, pp. 533, 563, 570. 

358. Cours, III, pp. 429-30, and 494, 
P.P. I. p. 354. 

359. Cours, III, pp. 336-7, cf. also 
III, pp. 216-7 and Early Essays, p. 219. 
It is interesting to note that while the 
passage in the early work states simply: 
"L'action personelle de Thomme sur 
les autres etres est la seule dont il com- 
prenne le mode, par le sentiment qu'il 
en a" (A. Comte, Opuscules de la phi- 
losophie sociale, 1819-1828, Paris, 
1883, p. 182), this becomes in the cor- 
responding passage of the Cours (IV. 
p. 468): "Ses propres actes, les seuls 
dont il puisse jamais croire comprendre 
le mode essentiel de production." 
(Italics ours.) 

360. Cours, I, pp. 10, 44. 

361. Cowry, VI, p. 601. 

362. Cf. C. Menger, Untersuchun- 
gen iiber die Methode der Sozialwis- 
senschaften, Leipzig, 1883, p. 15 note, 
where he argues that in the exact social 
sciences "sind die menschlichen Indi- 
viduen und Bestrebungen, die letzten 
Elemente unserer Analyse, empirischer 
Natur und die exakten theoretischen 
Sozialwissenschaften somit in grossem 

(NOTES TO PAGES 171-177) 243 

Vorteil gegeniiber den Naturwissen- 
schaf ten. Die 'Grenzen des Naturerken- 
nens' und die hieraus fiir das theoret- 
ische Verstandnis der Naturphanom- 
ene sich ergebenden Schwierigkeiten 
bestehen in Wahrheit nicht fur die 
exakte Forschung auf dem Gebiete der 
Sozialerscheinungen. Wenn A. Comte 
die 'Gesellschaften' als reale Organis- 
men, und zwar als Organismen kompli- 
zierterer Art, denn die naturlichen, 
auffasst und ihre theoretische Interpre- 
tation als das unvergleichlich komplizi- 
ertere und schwierigere wissenschaft- 
liche Problem bezeichnet, so befindet er 
sich somit in einem schweren Irrtum. 
Seine Theorie ware nur gegeniiber So- 
zialforschern richtig, welche den, mit 
RUcksicht auf den heutigen Zustand der 
theoretischen Naturwissenschaften, ge- 
radezu wahnwitzigen Gedanken f assen 
wiirden, die Gesellschaftsphanomene 
nicht spezifisch sozialwissenschaftlich, 
sondern in naturwissenschaftlich 
atomistischer Weise interpretieren zu 

363. Cours, IV, pp. 356-7, P.P. II, 
p. 97. 

364. Cours, VI, p. 599. 

365. Cours, I, p. 122, III, p. 295. 

366. Cours, III, p. 29. 

367. Cours, III, p. 291. 

368. Cours, IV, pp. 365-7. Early Es- 
says, pp. 193-198. 

369. Cours, III,"' lecon, VI, p. 671. 

370. Cours, III, pp. 321-2. 

371. Cours, IV, p. 258, cf. Early Es- 
says, p. 239. 

372. This has often been noted and 
commented upon. See particularly E. 
Bernheim, Geschichtsforschung und 
Geschichtsphilosophie, Gottingen, 
1880, p. 48, and Lehrbuch der histori- 
schen Methode, 5th ed., 1908, Index 
s. v. "sozialistisch-naturwissenschaft- 
liche oder kollektivistische Geschichts- 

373. There is one vague reference to 
this aspect in Cours, IV, pp. 270-1. 

244 (NOTES TO PAGES 177-181) 

374. See below, pp. 316-17. 

375. Cours, IV, p. 15, footnote. 

376. Defourny, La Philosophic posi- 
tiviste. Auguste Comte, Paris, 1902, p. 

377. Sociologie is introduced in 
Cours, IV, p. 185, lois sociologiques 
appears first a few pages earlier, IV, 
p. 180. 

378. Cours, I, p. 29, IV, pp. 230-1. 

379. The Cours is dedicated to Fou- 
rier and De Blainville, the two men 
among these four who were still alive 
at the time of its publication. 

380. It may however be mentioned, 
since it does not seem to have been 
noticed before, that the distinction be- 
tween Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, 
popularized by the German sociologist 
F. Toennies, already appears in Comte, 
who stresses the fact that "domestic re- 
lations do not constitute an association 
but a union." (Cours, IV, p. 419, P.P., 
II, 116.) 

381. Smith's influence appears in a 
clear and rather surprising form when 
Comte asks: "peut-on reellement con- 
cevoir, dans 1'ensemble des phenom- 
enes naturels, un plus merveilleux spec- 
tacle que cette convergence regulliere 
et continue d'une immensite d'indi- 
vidus, doues chacun d'une existence 
pleinement distincte et, a un certain 
degr6, inde'pendante, et neanmoins tous 
disposes sans cesse malgr6 les differ- 
ences plus ou moins discordantes de 
leur talents et sourtout de leurs car- 
actfcres, a concourir spontane*ment, par 
une multitude de moyens divers, a un 
meme deVeloppement general, sans 
s'etre d'ordinaire nullement concertos, 
et le plus souvent a 1'insu de la plupart 
d'entre eux, qui ne croient obeir qu'a 
leurs impulsions personelles?" Cours, 
IV, pp. 417-8. 

382. Cours, IV, p. 436, P.P., II, p. 

383. Lettres d* Auguste Comte a M. 
Valat, 1815-1844, Paris, 1870, pp. 

138-9. (Letter dated September 8th, 

384. Cours, I, p. 51, U, p. 20, VI, 
p. 618, Early Essays, p. 191. 

385. Cours, V, 14, cf. also V, p. 188, 
where it is explained that "ces denom- 
inations de grec et romain ne designent 
point ici essentiellement des societes 
accidentelles et particulieres; elles se 
rapportent surtout a des situations ne- 
cessaries et generates, qu'on ne pourrait 
qualifier abstraitement que par des lo- 
cutions trop compliqu6es." 

386. Cours, I, p. 65. 

387. Cf. Cours, VI, pp. 620, 622. 

388. Cf. the concluding sentences in 
Professor Morris Ginsberg's recent So- 
ciology (Home University Library, 
1934, p. 244): "The conception of a 
self-directing humanity is new and as 
yet vague in the extreme. To work out 
its full theoretical implications, and, 
with the aid of the other sciences, to 
inquire into the possibilities of its real- 
ization, may be said to be the ultimate 
object of sociology." 

389. This was, perhaps, even more 
true of the Continent, where it was gen- 
erally known that the various "socio- 
logical societies" consisted almost ex- 
clusively of socialists. 

390. Cours, VI, p. 670. 

391. Cours,VI,p. 671. 

392. See above p. 198. 

393. The "grammarians are even 
more absurd than the logicians." 
Syst&me de politique positive, II, pp. 

394. R. Mauduit, Auguste Comte et 
la science economique, Paris, 1929, 
particularly pp. 48-69. A full reply to 
Comte's strictures on political economy 
has been given by J. E. Cairnes in an 
essay on "M. Comte and Political 
Economy," first published in the Fort- 
nightly Review, May, 1870, and re- 
printed in Essays on Political Econ- 
omy, 1873, pp. 265-311. 

395. Cours, IV, p. 196. 

396. Cours, IV, p. 194, P.P., U, p. 

397. Cours, I, p. 84, IV, pp. 144-5, 
257, 306, 361. 

398. Cours, VI, p. 547, PJ>., II, p. 

399. Cours, IV, pp. 197-8, 255. 

400. CoHr$,IV,p. 195. 

401. Cours, IV, p. 197. 

402. Cours, IV, p. 203, P.P., II, p. 

403. COM, IV, pp. 200-1. 

404. Cours, IV, p. 203, P.P., II, p. 

405. Cf. Lettres a Valat, p. 99 (let- 
ter dated September 28th, 1819) : "J'ai 
une souveraine aversion pour les tra- 
vaux scientifiques dont je n'aperc.ois 
1'utilite soit directe, soit eloign6e." 

406. Cours, I, p. 42. 

407. Cours, IV, p. 139. 

408. J. S. Mill, Auguste Comte and 
Positive Philosophy, Second edition, 
London, 1866, p. 141. 

409. Ibid., p. 196. 

410. Cours, I, p. 15. Cf. Early Es- 
says, p. 132. ' 

411. Cours, IV, p. 43. 

412. Cours, IV, p. 43, P.P., II, p. 12. 

413. Cours, IV, p. 48. 

414. Cours, IV, p. 147, P.P., II, p. 

415. Cours, VI, p. 495. 

416. Cours, VI, p. 511. 

417. Systeme de politique positive, 
I, p. 156. 

418. Cours, VI, p. 454, Systeme de 
politique positive, I, pp. 151, 361-3, II, 
p. 87. 

419. Cours, VI, pp. 482-485. 

420. Cours, VI, p. 484. 

421. Cours, IV, p. 437, P.P., II, p. 

422. This applies particularly to the 
writings of O. Spengler and W. Som- 

423. Cours, VI, p. 590. Discours sur 
f esprit positif, ed. 1918, p. 118. 

424. Cours, IV, p. 51. 

(NOTES TO PAGES 181-187) 245 

425. The fullest account of Quete- 
let's life and work is that by J. Lottin, 
Quetelet, Statisticien et Sociologue, 
Louvain-Paris, 1912. 

426. On the reputed influence of the 
Saint-Simonians on Quetelet compare 
above, p. 153 and note 260. 

427. The English translation of the 
above passage is taken from H. M. 
Walker, Studies in the History of Statis- 
tical Method, Baltimore, 1929, p. 40. 

428. H. M. Walker, Studies in the 
History of Statistical Method^ Balti- 
more, 1929, p. 29. 

429. Cf. L. Dimier, Les maitres de 
la contre-r evolution, Paris, 1917, pp. 

430. J. S. Mill, Auguste Comte and 
Positivism, p. 2. 

431. For a full account of English 
Positivism see R. Metz, A Hundred 
Years of British Philosophy, London, 
1936, pp. 171-234, and J. E. McGee, 
A Crusade for Humanity The History 
of Organized Positivism in England, 
London, 1931. On Comte's influence in 
the United States see the two studies 
by R. L. Hawkins, Auguste Comte and 
the United States (1816-1853), 1936, 
and Positivism in the United States 
(1853-1861), 1938 (both Harvard 
University Press). 

432. This penetration of Comtian 
positivism into Germany through the 
medium of English authors is a curious 
reversal of the earlier process when 
English seventeenth and eighteenth 
century thought had become known to 
Germany largely through the instru- 
mentality of French writers, from 
Montesquieu and Rousseau down to 
J. B. Say. This fact explains to a large 
extent the belief, widely held in Ger- 
many, that there exists a fundamental 
contrast between "Western" naturalist 
and German idealist thought. In fact, 
if such a contrast can at all be drawn, 
there is a much more continuous differ- 
ence between English thought, as repre- 

246 (NOTES TO PAGES 187-193) 

sented, say, by Locke, Mandeville, 
Hume, Smith, Burke, Bentham and the 
classical economists and, on the other 
hand, Continental thought as repre- 
sented by the two parallel and very 
similar developments which went from 
Montesquieu, through Turgot, Condor- 
cet, down to Saint-Simon and Comte, 
and from Herder through Kant, Fichte, 
Schelling and Hegel down to the later 
Hegelians. The French school of 
thought which indeed was closely re- 
lated to English thought, that of Con- 
dillac and the "ideologues," had disap- 
peared by the time with which we are 
now concerned. 

433. The infiltration of positivist 
thought into the social sciences in Ger- 
many is a story by itself which cannot 
be told here. Among its most influential 
representatives were the two founders 
of Volker psychologic, M. Lazarus and 
H. Steinthal (the former important be- 
cause of his influence on W. Dilthey), 
E. du Bois-Reymond (see particularly 
his lecture Kulturgeschichte und Na- 
turmssenschaft, 1877), the Viennese 
circle of T. Gomperz and W. Scherer, 
later W. Wundt, H. Vaihinger, W. Os- 
walt and K. Lamprecht. See on this 
E. Rothacker, Einleitung in die Geistes- 
wissenschaften, Tubingen, 1920, pp. 

200-206, 253 et seq., C. Misch, Der 
junge Dilthey, Leipzig, 1933, E. Bern- 
heim, Geschichtsforschung und Ge- 
schichtsphilosophie, Gottingen, 1880, 
and the same authors' Lehrbuch der 
historischen Methode, 5th and 6th ed., 
Leipzig, 1908, pp. 699-716, and for the 
influence on some of the members 
of the younger historical school of 
German economists particularly H. 
Waentig, August Comte und seine 
Bedeutung fur die Entwicklung der 
Socialwissenschaft, Leipzig, 1894, pp. 
279 et seq. 

434. Cf. S. Deploige, Le conflit de 
la morale et de la sociologie, Louvain, 
1911, particularly chapter VI on the 
genesis of Durckheim's system. 

435. The direct influence of Comte 
on Charles Maurras should perhaps 
also be mentioned here. 

436. Cf. W. Jaffe, Les theories eco- 
nomiques et sociales de T. Veblen, 
Paris, 1924, p. 35, and R. V. Teggart, 
Thor -stein Veblen, A Chapter in Ameri- 
can Economic Thought, Berkeley, 
1932, pp. 15,43,49-53. 

437. Cf. F. S. Marvin, Comte (in the 
series "Modern Sociologists"), London, 
1936, p. 183. 

438. Cf. E. Bernheim, Lehrbuch der 
historischen Methode, pp. 710 et seq. 

Part Three 

1. Bernard Bosanquet, The Meeting 
of Extremes in Contemporary Philos- 
ophy, London, 1921, p. 100. 

2. See Hutchinson Stirling, "Why 
the Philosophy of History Ends with 
Hegel and Not with Comte," in "Sup- 
plementary Note" to A. Schwegler's 
Handbook of the History of Philos- 
ophy, and John Tulloch, Edinburgh 
Review, CCLX 1868. E. Troeltsch, 

Der Historismus und seine Probleme 
(Gesammelte Schriften III) Tubin- 
gen, 1922, p. 24, is inclined to ascribe 
even Comte's celebrated law of the 
three stages to the influence of Hegel's 
dialectics, although it derives in fact 
from Turgot. Cf. also R. Levin, Der 
Geschichtsbegriff des Positivismus, 
Leipzig, 1935, p. 20. 

3. First published in 1822 in H. de 

Saint-Simon's Catdchisme des Indus- 
trielles as Plan for the Scientific Opera- 
tions Necessary for Reorganizing So- 
ciety and two years later republished 
separately as System of Positive Polity 
"a title premature indeed, but rightly 
indicating the scope" of his labors, as 
Comte wrote much later when he re- 
printed his early works as an Appendix 
to his Systeme de politique positive. A 
translation of this appendix by D. H. 
Hutton was published in 1911 under 
the title Early Essays in Social Philos- 
ophy in Routledge's "New Universal 
Library," and it is from this little vol- 
ume that the above English titles and 
the later quotations are taken. 

4. On Comte's early history and his 
relation to Saint-Simon see the com- 
prehensive account in H. Gouhier, La 
jeunesse d'Auguste Comte et la Forma- 
tion du Positivisme, 3 vols.; Paris, 

5. Gustave d'Eichthal to Auguste 
Comte, November 18, 1824, and Janu- 
ary 12, 1825. P. Lafitte, "Materiaux 
pour servir a la Biographic d'Auguste 
Comte: Correspondance, d'Auguste 
Comte avec Gustave d'Eichthal," La 
Revue Occidentale, second series, XII 
19 anne"e, 1891, Part II, pp. 186 ff. 

6. Lettres d'Auguste Comte d Di- 
vers, Paris, 1905, II, p. 86 (April 11, 

7. R. Flint, Philosophy of History in 
Europe, I, 1874, pp. 262, 267, 281. 

8. J. T. Merz, History of European 
Thought, IV (1914), pp. 186, 481 ff., 

9. A. Fouillee, Le mouvement posi- 
tiviste, 1896, pp. 268, 366. 

10. E. Meyerson, U explication dans 
les sciences, 1921, II, pp. 122-38. 

11. T. Wittaker, Reason: A Philos- 
ophical Essay with Historical Illustra- 
tions, Cambridge, 1934, pp. 7-9. 

12. Troeltsch, op. cit., p. 408. 

13. E. Spranger, "Die Kulrurzyklen- 
theorie und das Problem des Kulrurver- 

( NOTES TO PAGES 1 93- 1 94 ) 247 

falles," Sitzungsberichte der Preussi- 
schen Akademie der Wissenschaften. 
Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, 1926, 
pp. xlii ff. 

14. W. Ashley, Introduction to Eng- 
lish Economic History and Theory, 3d 
ed.; 1914, I, ix-xi. A. W. Benn, His- 
tory of British Rationalism, 1906, I, 
412, 449; U, 82. E. Caird, The Social 
Philosophy and Religion of Comte, 2d 
ed.; 1893, p. 51. M. R. Cohen, "Causa- 
tion and its Application to History," 
Journal of the History of Ideas, III, 
1942, 12. R. Eucken, "Zur Wurdigung 
Comte's und des Posivitismus," in Phi- 
losophische Aufsdtze Eduard Zeller 
gewidmet, Leipzig, 1887, p. 67, and 
also in Geistige Stromungen der Gegen- 
wart, 1904, p. 164. K. R. Geijer, 
"Hegelianism och Positivism," Lunds 
Universitets Arsskrift, XVIII, 1883. 
G. Gourvitch, L'idee du droit social, 
1932, pp. 271, 297. H. Hoeffding, 
Der menschliche Gedanke, 1911, p. 
41. M. Mandelbaum, The Problem of 
Historical Knowledge, New York, 
1938, pp. 312 ff. G. Mehlis, "Die 
Geschichtsphilosophie Hegels und 
Comtes," Jahrbuch fiir Soziologie, III, 
1927. J. Rambaud, Histoire des Doc- 
trines Economiques, 1899, pp. 485, 
542. E. Rothacker, Einleitung in die 
Geisteswissenschaften, 1920, pp. 190, 
287. A. Salomon, "Tocqueville's Philos- 
ophy of Freedom," Review of Politics, 
I, 1939, 400. M. Schinz, Geschichte 
der franzosischen Philosophic, 1914, 
I, 2. W. Windelband, Lehrbuch der 
Geschichte der Philosophic, new ed.; 
1935, pp. 554 f. An article by G. 
Salomon-Delatour, "Hegel ou Comte," 
in the Revue Positiviste Internationale, 
LIT, 1935, and LIII, 1936, became 
available to me only after the 
present essay was in the hands of the 

15. F. Dittmann, "Die Geschichts- 
philosophie Comtes und Hegels," Vier- 
teljahrsschrift fur mssenschaftliche 

248 (NOTES TO PAGES 194-200) 

Philosophie und Soziologie, XXXVIII 
(19 14), XXXIX (19 15). 

16. The list of additional names, 
which could be extended almost in- 
definitely, would include, among 
others, such ones as Eugen Diihring, 
Arnold Ruge, J. P. Proudhon, V. 
Pareto, L. T. Hobhouse, E. Troeltsch, 
W. DUthey, Karl Lamprecht, and Kurt 

17. Quoted by K. R. Popper, The 
Open Society and Its Enemies, Lon- 
don, 1945, II, 25. 

18. J. S. Mill to A. Bain, November 
4, 1867, The Letters of John Stuart 
Mill, ed. H. S. R. Elliot, London, 1910, 
II, 93. 

19. Meyerson, op. cit., esp. chap, 

20. Meyerson, op. cit., II, 50. 

21. J. Laporte, Le Rationalisme de 
Descartes, new ed.; Paris, 1950. 

22. E. Buss, "Montesquieu und 
Cartesius," Philosophische Monats- 
hefte, IV (1869), 1-37, and H. Tre- 
scher, "Montesquieu's Einfluss auf 
die philosophischen Grundlagen der 
Staatslehre Hegels," Schmollers Jahr- 

23. Cf. Schinz, op. cit., and G. 
Misch, "Zur Entstehung des franzosi- 
schen Positivismus," Archiv fur Ge- 
schichte der Philosophie, XIV (1901). 

24. In a letter of August 5, 1824, 
Comte writes of Herder as "predeces- 
seur du Condorcet, mon predecesseur 
immediat." See Lettres d'Auguste 
Comte a Divers, Paris, 1905, II, 56. 

25. Comte, Cours de Philosophie 
Positive, 5th ed. (identical with the 
1st); Paris, 1893, IV, 253; see also 
Early Essays, p. 150. 

26. For a systematic analysis and 
criticism of these ideas see part I of 
this volume. 

27. Cf. K. R. Popper, "The Poverty 
of Historicism," Economica (N.S.), XI 
(1944), 94. 

28. Cours, IV, 286: 'Tensemble du 

sujet est certainement alors beaucoup 
mieux connu et plus immediatement 
abordable que les diverses parties qu'on 
distinguera ult6rieurement." 

29. C0Hrs,IV,291. 

30. Cours, IV, 526. 

31. See, for example, E. de Roberty, 
Philosophie du siecle, Paris, 1891, p. 
29, and Schinz, op. cit., p. 255. 

32. Salomon, op. cit., p. 400. 

33. Cours, VI, 590; Discours sur 
V esprit positive (1918 ed.),p. 118. 

34. Cf., for example, Dittmann, op. 
cit., XXXVIII, 310, and Merz, op. cit. t 
p. 500. 

35. Cf. Popper, Open Society, and 
Karl Lowith, Von Hegel zu Nietzsche, 
ZUrich, 1941, p. 302. 

36. This long-standing confusion 
has been accentuated recently by the 
fact that so distinguished a historian as 
Friedrich Meinecke devoted his great 
work, Die Entstehung des Historismus, 
Miinchen, 1936, entirely to that 
earlier historical school, in contradis- 
tinction to which the term historicism 
was coined during the second half of 
the nineteenth century. See also W. 
Eucken, "Die Ueberwindung des His- 
torismus," Schmollers Jahrbuch, LXIII 

37. Quoted by G. Bryson, Man and 
Society, Princeton, 1945, p. 78. 

38. Quoted by Troeltsch, op. cit., pp. 
189-90, note. 

39. Popper, "The Poverty of His- 
toricism," as quoted above. 

40. On Comte's influence on the 
growth of the younger historical school 
in German economics compare partic- 
ularly F. Raab, Die Fortschrittsidee bei 
Gustav Schmoller, Freiburg, 1934, p. 
72, and H. Waentig, August Comte und 
seine Bedeutung fur die Entwicklung 
der Sozialwissenschaft, Leipzig, 1894. 

41. Most clearly seen in the person 
of Wilhelm Scherer. See also Roth- 
acker, op. cit., pp. 190-250. 

42. Early Essays, p. 15. 

43. Court, IV, 298. 

44. Cours, IV, 157: "Car la vraie 
Iibert6 ne peut consister, sans doute, 
qu'en une soumission rationelle a la 
seule preponderance, convenablement 
constatee, des lois fondamentales de la 

45. Philosophic der Geschichte, ed. 
Reclam, p. 77: "Notwendig ist das 
Verniinftige als das Substantielle, und 
frei sind wir, indem wir es als Gesetz 
anerkennen und ihm als Substanz un- 
seres eigenen Wesens folgen: der objek- 
tive und der subjektive Wille sind dann 
ausgesohnt und ein und dasselbe un- 
getrubte Ganze." 

46. Cours, IV, 144; cf . Early Essays, 
p. 132. 

47. For references see Meyerson, 
U explication, II, 130, and cf. Popper, 
Open Society, II, 40. 

48. J. S. Mill to Harriet Mill, Rome, 
January 15, 1855: "Almost all the 
projects of social reformers of these 
days are really liberticide Comte's 
particularly so". (F. A. Hayek, John 
Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor, Chi- 
cago, 1951, p. 216). For a fuller state- 
ment of Comte's political conclusions, 
whose antiliberal tendencies go far be- 
yond anything Hegel ever said, see 
above pp. 183-184. 

49. In Comte's "Positivist Calendar" 
the "Month of Modern Statesmanship" 
is given the name of Frederick the 

50. Cf. H. Preller, "Rationalismus 
und Historismus," Historische Zeit- 

51. Grundlinien der Philosophic des 
Rechts, Preface ("Philosophische Bib- 
liothek," Leipzig, Felix Meiner, 1911), 
p. 14. 

52. Systeme de Politique Positive 
(1854), I, 356: "La sup6riorite ne*ces- 
saire de la moral d6montr6e sur la 
morale revelde." 

53. L'industrie, ed. H. de Saint- 
Simon, Vol. Ill, 2 m ' cahier. 

(NOTES TO PAGES 200-204) 249 

54. A. Thiers, Histoire de la rtvolu- 
tionfranfaise (1823-27). 

55. T. Carlyle to J. S. Mill, January 
12, 1833, in Letters of Thomas Carlyle 
to John Stuart Mill, John Sterling and 
Robert Browning, ed. Alexander Car- 
lyle, London, 1910. 

56. J.S. Mill to T. Carlyle, February 
2, 1833 (unpublished letter in the Na- 
tional Library of Scotland). 

57. On Hegel's legal positivism see 
particularly H. Heller, Hegel und 
der nationale Machstaatsgedanke in 
Deutschland, Leipzig and Berlin, 
1921, p. 166, and Popper, The Open 
Society, II, 39. For Comte see Cours, 
IV, 266 ff . 

58. Cf. above pp. 88-93. 

59. Cf. my Individualism and Eco- 
nomic Order, Chicago, 1948, p. 7. 

60. Cf. above p. 168 et seq. 

61. Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach and 
the Outcome of Classical German 
Philosophy, New York, 1941, p. 18. 

62. On Feuerbach see S. Rawido- 
wicz, Ludwig Feuerbachs Philosophic, 
Berlin, 1931; K. Lowith, Von Hegel 
bis Nietzsche, Zurich, 1941; A. L6vy, 
La philosophic du Feuerbach, Paris, 
1904, and F. Lombardi, L. Feuerbach, 
Florence, 1935. A recent English 
study of Feuerbach by W. B. Chamber- 
lain, Heaven Wasn't His Destination, 
London, 1941, is unfortunately quite 
inadequate. For the widespread positiv- 
istic tendencies among the Young He- 
gelians see particularly D. Koigen, Zur 
Vorgeschichte des modernen philoso- 
phischen Sozialismus in Deutschland, 
Bern, 1901. 

63. L. Feuerbach to W. Bolin, Oct 
20, 1860, Ausgewdhlte Brief e von und 
an Feuerbach, ed. W. Bolin, Leipzig, 
1904, II, 246-47. 

64. Lorenz Stein, Der Socialismus 
und Communismus im heutigen Frank- 
reich, Leipzig, 1842. 

65. See Heinz Nitschke, "Die Ge- 
schichtsphilosophie Lorenz von Steins," 

250 (NOTES TO PAGES 204-206) 

Historische Zeitschrift, Supplement 
XXVI, 1932, especially p. 136 for the 
earlier literature on the subject; and 
T. G. Masaryk, Die philosophischen 
und soziologischen Grundlagen des 
Marxismus, Vienna, 1899, p. 34. 

66. On Jules Lechevalier see H. 
Ahrens, Naturrecht, 6th ed.; Vienna, 
1870, I, 204; Charles Pelarin, Notice 
sur Jules Lechevalier et Abel Transon, 
Paris, 1877; A. V. Wenckstern, Marx, 
Leipzig, 1896, pp. 205 f.; and S. 
Bauer, "Henri de Saint-Simon nach 
hundert Jahren," Archiv fur die Ge- 
schichte des Sozialismus, XII (1926), 

67. A careful analysis of the positiv- 
ist influence on Marx and Engels would 
require a separate investigation. A di- 
rect influence extending to surprising 
verbal similarities could be shown in 
the writing of Engels, while the influ- 
ence on Marx is probably more indi- 
rect. Some material for such a study 
will be found in T. G. Masaryk, op. cit., 
p. 35, and Lucie Prenant, "Marx et 
Comte," in A la Lumiere de Marxisme, 
Paris, Cercle de la Russie Neuve, 
1937, Vol. II, Part I. In a late letter 
to Engels (July 7, 1866), Marx who 
was then reading Comte, apparently for 
the first time consciously (as distin- 
guished from his probable acquaintance 
with Comte's Saint-Simonian writing), 
describes him as "lamentable" com- 
pared to Hegel. 

68. Friedrich List, Nationales Sys- 
tem der politischen Oekonomie, 1841. 

69. Wilhelm Roscher, Grundriss zu 
Vorlesungen liber die staatswirtschaft 
nach historischer Methode, 1843. 

70. The special significance of the 
year 1842 in this connection is well 
brought out by D. Koigen, op. cit., pp. 
236 ff ., and by Hans Freund, Soziologie 
und Sozialismus, Wurzburg, 1934. 
Particularly instructive on the influence 
of positivism on the German historians 

of the period are the letters of J. G. 
Droysen. See particularly his letter of 
February 2, 1851, to T. v. Schon, in 
which he writes: "Die Philosophic ist 
durch Hegel und seine Schiller fur 
geraume Zeit nicht nur diskreditiert 
sondern in ihrem eigensten Leben zer- 
riittet. Die Gotzendienerei mit dem 
konstruierenden, ja schopferischen 
Denken hat, indem alles ihm vindiziert 
wurde, zu dem Feuerbachschen Wahn- 
witz getrieben, der methodisch und 
ethisch jener polytechnischen Richtung 
ganz entspricht"; and the letter of July 
17, 1852, to M. Duncker, which con- 
tains the following passage: "Weh uns 
und unserem deutschen Denken, wenn 
die polytechnische Misere, an der 
Frankreich seit 1789 verdorrt und ver- 
fault, diese babylonische Mengerei von 
Rechnerei und Luderlichkeit, in das 
schon entartete Geschlecht noch tiefer 
einreisst. Jener bunte Positivismus, den 
man in Berlin betreibt, setzt diese Re- 
volution des geistigen Lebens ins Treib- 
haus." (J. G. Droysen, Briefwechsel, 
ed. R. Hiibner, Leipzig, 1929, II, 48, 

71. Cf. D. D. Rosca, L' influence de 
Hegel sur Tame, Paris, 1928, and O. 
Engel, Der Einfluss Hegels auf die 
Bildung der Gedankenwelt Taines, 
Stuttgart, 1920. 

72. See S. Deploige, The Conflict be- 
tween Ethics and Sociology, St. Louis, 
1938, chap. iv. 

73. See P. Barth, Die Philosophic 
der Geschichte als Soziologie, 1925. 

74. See E. Griinwald, Das Problem 
der Soziologie des Wissens, Vienna, 

75. C. Bougl6, Chez les Prophetes 
socialistes, 1918, chap. iii. 

76. That Comte's ideas influenced 
Veblen seems fairly clear. See W. 
Jarfe*, Les theories tconomiques et 
soclales de T. Veblen, Paris, 1924, 
p. 35, 



Abstraction, use of in natural and so- 
cial sciences, 68, 69, 70 

Acton, Lord, quoted, 103 

Ampere, A. M., 112 

Anthropomorphism, in natural science, 
18; as explanation, 19; in social 
science, 57, 80, 81x; Comte on, 170 

Arago, F. J. D., 112 

Ashley, W., 188 

Astronomy, Copernican, 14; as similar 
to social science, 42 

Bacon, Francis, 14 

Bailly, Dr., 140 

Balzac, Honore, 157 

Bazard, Saint-Amand, 145, 147, 153, 


Bebel, A., 101 
Behaviorism, 45, 48, 77 
Bentham, Jeremy, 143 
Beranger, P. J. de, 157 
Berthollet, Count C.-L., Ill, 119 
Bichat, M. F. X., 119 
Blanc, Louis, 163, 164, 166 
Blanqui, Adolph, 153 
Boerne, L., 160 
Bonald, L. G. A., 184 
Bosanquet, Bernard, 191 
Bougie, Celestin, 205 
Breysig, K., 188 
Brisbane, Albert, 160 
Buchez, P. J. B., 164 
Buchholz, Friedrich, 169 
Buckle, H. T., 187, 205 
Buffon, G. L. L., 106 

Cabanis, P. J. G., 114, 115, 117 
Cabet, E., 153, 164 
Carey, Henry, 188 

Carlyle, Thomas, 157, 159, 202 

Carnot, H., 146, 147, 148, 154 

Caraot, L., 11 

Carnot, S., 147 

Cauchy, A.-L., 112 

Chevalier, Michel, 146, 155, 156 

Clairault, Alexis, 105 

Classification, scientific, 88 ff.; of per- 
ception, 18 ff.; of facts and appear- 
ances, 19; according to behavior, 20; 
and mathematics, 20; as characteris- 
tic of mental process, 47, 48; as me- 
chanical, 48, 49 

Collectivism, as methodology of scien- 
ticism, 38, 53 ff.; and conceptual 
realism, 54; and historicism, 58; 
political, 90, 91, 92; influence on of 
Comte and Hegel, 203, 204 

Compositive Method, of social studies, 
39; in history, 65; and theory of so- 
cial structure, 85 

Comte, Auguste, and the physicalists, 
14; on introspection, 44; his hier- 
archy of sciences, 48, 173-176; on 
anthropomorphism, 57; and the col- 
lectivist approach, 59, 203; theory of 
history, 74, 170-173, 199; and 
French positivism, 106, 115; col- 
laboration with Saint Simon, 129 ff.; 
on economics, 130, 181, 182; on 
social reorganization, 130-134, 183- 
184; and the Producteur, 142; and 
the Saint-Simonians, 144; method- 
ology, 176, 177; sociology, 138, 
139, 178, 179, 180, 196, 197, 198; 
on freedom, 139, 183, 200; in- 
fluence of, 186-188; and Hegel, 
192 if.; on empirical research, 195, 
196; and moral relativism, 201; and 


252 INDEX 

legal positivism, 202; and collec- 
tivism, 203; his System of Positive 
Policy, 137, 158, 159, 168, 193; 
Court de Philosophic Positive, 166, 
169, 173 ff., 192, 193 
Conceptual realism, 54 
Condillac, E. B. de, 114, 115 
Condorcet, M. J. A., and French Posi- 
tivism, 59, 107; social theory of, 
107, 108; Sketch of the Historical 
Picture of the Human Mind, 108; 
and Comte, 130; and scientific his- 
tory, 132; his influence on Quetelet, 
185; and Cartesianism, 196 
Considerant, Victor, 113, 164 
Constructs, role in natural science, 21; 

analogy to language, 21, 22 
Credit Mobilier, 165 
Croce, B., 194 
Cuvier, G. L., 114, 115 

d'Alembert, J. L., and the revolution 
in mechanics, 105, 106, 116; and 
French Positivism, 107; and Saint- 
Simon, 117; and Cartesianism, 196 

Darwin, Charles, 206 

de Berry, Due, 135 

de Biran, Main, 114 

de Blainville, 178 

de Brosses, C., 106 

Degerando, J. M., 114 

d'Eichthal, Gustave, 146, 158, 159, 193 

Democritus, 79 

Descartes, Ren6, 107, 203, 196 

de Stael, Madame, 119 

de Tracy, Destutt, 114, 115, 116 

Dewey, John, 194 

Dittman, Friedrich, 194 

Durkheim, Emile, 187, 194, 205 

Duveyrier, Charles, 140, 155 

Ecole de Medecin, 114, 119 

Ecole Normal, 111 

Ecole Polytechnique, 105, 109, 110, 
111, 112, 113, 115, 117, 127, 140, 
143, 146, 148, 152, 169, 185 

Economics, subjective character of, 
31, 32, 33; and prediction, 43; plan- 
ning of, 94 ff.; Saint Simon on, 127, 

136, 137, 165, 166; Comte on, 130, 
181, 182 

Education, after the French Revolu- 
tion, 109, 110, 111 

Eliot, George, 187 

Enfantin, Prosper, and Saint-Simon- 
ism, 144, 145, 148, 152, 153, 166; 
on women, 154; imprisoned, 155 

Engels, Friedrich, 136, 163, 194, 204 

Engineering, task of, 94, 95; type of 
mind, 94 ff., and the Ecole Polytech- 
nique, 109, 110, 111 

Euler, Leonard, 105 

Exposition des Doctrines de Saint 
Simon, 147-151 

Feuerbach, Ludwig, 194, 204, 206 

Fichte, J. G., 196 

Flint, R., 194 

Fouill^e, Alfred, 194 

Fourier, Charles, 111, 154, 163, 17S, 


Fourael, Henri, 146 
Frederick, the Great, 201 
Fresnel, A. J., 112 

Gall, F. J., 17, 119 
Garibaldi, G., 164 
Gay-Lussac, J. L., 112 
Gioberti, V., 164 
Goethe, J. W., 159 
Grim, Karl, 162, 166 
Gutzkow, Karl, 163 

Halevy, Leon, 140, 145 

Hegel, G. W. F., and positivism, 58, 
202; philosophy of history, 74; on 
control of social process, 88, 203- 
204; and Marx, 163, 205, 206; and 
Comte, 180, 192 ff.; on empirical re- 
search, 195, 196; on aim and method 
of social studies, 196, 197, 198; on 
freedom, 200; and moral relativism, 
202; and historicism, 199, 200; and 
totalitarianism, 206; Philosophy of 
Law, 193; Encyklopaedie, 193; Phi- 
losophy of History, 193 

Heine, Heinrich, 159 

Herder, J. G. von, 196 

Herzen, A., 164 

Hess, Moses, 161, 163 

Historicism, 63 ff.; and 'laws' of de- 
velopment, 73; and social wholes, 
68 ff.; and variability of the human 
mind, 78; of Comte and Hegel, 196- 

Historical method, as compositive, 65; 
and historicism, 65; and social 
theory, 66, 67, 68, 71, 72; and rela- 
tivism, 70 

Hobhouse, L. T., 88, 188 

Hugo, Victor, 157 

Humboldt, Alexander v., 112, 147 

Hume, David, 107, 199, 206 

Huxley, Thomas, 184 

Ideologues, 113, 114, 116 

Ideas, constitutive and explanatory, 
36, 37 

Individualist Method, of social science, 
38; and social policy, 90, 91; at- 
tacked by historicism, 205 

Kant, Immanuel, 196, 206 
Kowalevski, M. M., 162 
Kuehne, G., 161 

Lagrange, J.-L., and the Enlighten- 
ment, 105; and positivism, 107; and 
the Ecole Polytechnique, 111, 112; 
and Saint-Simon and Comte, 130, 

Lamarck, Chevalier de, 114 

Lamprecht, K., 188 

Language, and scientific constructs, 21, 

Laplace, Marquis de, and the Enlight- 
enment, 105; and the Ecole Poly- 
technique; Essai philosophique sur 
les Probability's, 124; influence on 
Comte and Quetelet, 185, 186 

Lassalle, F., 163 

Lavoisier, A. L., 105, 106 

Lechevalier, Jules, 146, 154, 204 

Lecky, W. E., 187 

LePlay,F., 153, 164, 186 

Leroux, P., 153, 154, 164 

Levy-Bruhl, L., 187 

INDEX 253 

Lewes, George, 186 
Liebknecht, W., 163 
List, Friedrich, 166, 205 
Louis Phillipe, 153 
Loyola, Ignatius, 140 

Mach, Ernst, 59 

Macrodynamic theories, and scientism, 

Malus, E.-L., 112 

Martineau, Harriet, 187 

Marx, Karl, and historicism, 74, 199, 
205; influenced by Thierry, 125; and 
Saint-Simonism, 152; and the Young 
Hegelians, 161, 162; and Comte and 
Hegel, 194, 197, 204; and totali- 
tarianism, 204, 205, 206 

Mathematics, in natural science, 20; 
and sense data, 23 

Mazzini, G., 164, 194 

Meinecke, G., 64 

Menger, Carl, 83 

Merz, J. T., 194 

Mevissen, G., 165 

Meyerson, Emiie, 194 

Mill, J. S., and Comte, 140, 178, 186, 
200; and Saint-Simonism, 158; on 
Hegel, 195; on moral relativism, 202 

Mind, engineering type of, 16; simi- 
larity in different individuals, 23, 24, 
26, 46, 77; and social science, 26 ff., 
34; knowledge of, 46; and classifica- 
tion, 47, 48; and collectivism, 57; 
and history, 78, 79; control of, 88 

Models, in social science, 56; and the 
price system, 57; and historical 
method, 71 

Monge, G., Ill, 119, 130 

Montesquieu, Baron de, 130, 196 

Moral Relativism, and scientism, 92; 
of Comte and Hegel, 201, 202 

Mumford, Lewis, 123 

Napoleon III, 166 

Natural Science, influence on social 
science, 13 ff., method of, 17 ff., and 
constructs, 21; aim of, 23; and classi- 
fication, 18 ff.; and mathematics, 20; 
objective character of, 28 ff. 

254 INDEX 

Needham, Joseph, 88 

Neo-Saint-Simoniens, 64 

Neurath, Otto, 45, 123 

Newton, Isaac, 105; Council of, 20, 21 

Niebuhr, B. G., 198 

Objectivism, and scientism, 44 if.; and 
social energetics, 51; and quantita- 
tive measurement, 50; and economic 
theory, 52; and the efficiency con- 
cept, 52 

Oppenheim, A., 104 

Ostwald, William, 51 

Owen, Robert, 163 

Pecqueur, C, 153, 164, 166 

Pellico, S., 164 

Physicalism, 45, 48, 122, 123 

Pereire, J. E., 165, 166 

Planning, of the social process, 94 ff. 

Plato, 51, 97, 197 

Poinsot, Louis, 11, 147 

Poisson, S.-D., 112 

Prediction, in social science, 42-43 

Prony, Gaspard, 111 

Proudhon, P. J., 164 

Purposive social formations, 80 ff. 

Quantitative measurement, and social 
science, 50, 51; and Quetelet, 184, 

Quetelet, A., and Saint-Simonism, 153, 
164; and statistics, 177, 184, 185, 
186; influence in England, 187 

Ranke, L. von, 198 
Relativism, and historicism, 70 
Renan, E., 187, 194 
Rodbertus, K., 161, 163, 167 
Rodrigues, Olinde, 140, 143, 154 
Roscher, Wilhelm, 205 
Ruge, A., 161 
Rumford, Count, 112 
Russell, Bertrand, 100 

Saint-Beuve, C. A., 166 
Saint-Simon, Henri, and the Enlighten- 
ment, 105; on education, 110, 115; 

his life, 117ff., and the Council of 
Newton, 120, 121; and Physicalism, 
122, 123; collaboration with Comte, 
129 ff.; plan for social reform, 131- 
134, 136, 137; on freedom, 136; and 
mysticism, 140, 141; influence of, 
156ff.; Lettres d'un habitant de 
Geneve, 120, 121; Introduction aux 
Travaux Scientifiques, 122, 123; 
Me moire sur la Science de I'homme, 
124, 125; Ulndustrie, 126, 127, 130, 
131; Sy steme Industriele, 135, 159; 
Catechisme des Industriels, 136-140; 
Opinions litteraires, philosophiques 
et industrielles, 140; Nouveau Chris- 
tianisme, 140, 141, 157 

Saint-Simonism, and the Producteur, 
143-146; and the Exposition, 147- 
152; and Marx, 152; and the Globe, 
152, 154, 159; religious quality of, 
153; alliance with liberal democracy, 
153; influence on literature, 157; in 
England, 157, 158; in Germany, 159- 
162; on French socialism, 164, 165; 
on European capitalism, 165, 166; 
on Napoleon III, 166 

Sand, George, 154 

Say, J. B., 116, 126, 181 

Say, Louis, 115 

Schmoller, G., 198, 199 

Scientism, defined, 15, 16; and collec- 
tivism, 38, 53-63; and objectivism, 
44-52; and quantitative measure- 
ment, 50, 51; and the macroscopic 
view, 59; and historicism, 64-79; and 
Marxism, 74; and "purposive" social 
formations, 80-87; and control of 
social process, 87-93; and economic 
planning, 94-102 

Simiand, F., 187 

Smith, Adam, quoted, 13; and the com- 
positive method, 65; and purposive 
social formation, 83; and Comte and 
Hegel, 178, 181, 203, 206 

Social Energetics, 51 

Social Physics, 138, 139 

Social Science, subjective character of, 
25-35; individualist and compositive 
method of, 36-43; anthropomorphic 

INDEX 255 

concepts in, 57; use of models, 56, 
57, 71; relation to history, 71, 72 

Social Structure, and the mind, 34; as 
'purposive,' 80 ff.; control of, 88 ff 

Social wholes, as constructs of theoret- 
ical models or popular conceptions, 
54 ff.; and the market concept, 56; 
and historical study, 71 

Sociology of knowledge, 76, 89, 180 

Soddy, F., 51 

Solvay, Ernest, 51, 164 

Sombart, W., 74, 198, 205 

Sorel, Georges, 113 

Spencer, Herbert, 187 

Spengler, O., 74, 205 

Spranger, Eduard, 194 

Statistics, and collectivism, 61; and 
measurement, 62; and Quetelet, 184, 

Stein, Lorenz v., 162, 163, 167, 204 

Strauss, D. F., 161 

Strindberg, A., 164 

Subjectivism, of social science, 25-35; 
illustrated by economic theory, 31- 

Sue, Eugene, 157 

Taine, H., 187, 194, 205 

Talabot, P., 166 

Tarde, Gabriel, 166 

Th6nard, Arnaud, 112 

Thierry, Augustin, 125, 126, 142, 162, 


Thiers, L. A., 202 
Transcendentalism, 18 
Transon, Abel, 146, 149, 154, 164 
Troeltsch, Ernest, 194 
Turgot, R. L, 106, 107, 196 

Varnhagen, R., 159 

Veblen, T., 188, 206 

Voltaire, F.-M. A. de, 105, 206 

Watson, J. B., 45 
Weber, Max, 98 
Weitling, W., 162 
Wells, H. G., 123 
Westphalen, Ludwig, 162 
Whitehead, A. N., 54, 87 
Wittaker, Thomas, 194 

Young Hegelians, 160 
Young Italian Movement, 164 



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